Francine - harvest
I Blame the Dutch mpoetess
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Um, so, yeah.




I feel like even here, where everybody *knows* I'm a slashwhore, I have to protest that I do *not* like Buffy/Spike. I like Spike. I tolerate Buffy. I'm overjoyed that she cut him loose, and I thought it was a) wonderful tht she called him William and b) totally uneven, given her "Ooh, he could be my boyfriend" behaviour last ep.

However. People calling for Spike's staking (as a result of this latest fiasco) make me grit my teeth. Or "Spike should have been staked long ago..."

The progressing Spike-arc (and part of the Angelus arc, I suspect) has been about showing how staking a vampire or other demon *isn't* just black and white. How Buffy & Co's assumptions that they're always doing the right thing *should* be challenged.

Vampire attacking Buffy or someone else physically? Stake it. Immediate defense. Vampire simply existing? Well, certainly Season 1 morality would say that it's evil, it will continue to do harm, and just because it isn't doing harm right now, doesn't mean that it won't kill someone tomorrow.

Of course, it doesn't mean that Joe Blow on the streetcorner isn't a completely evil human who's just never gotten up the gumption to kill somebody before. He's got a licensed gun. He *could* harm humans. And Rocko Blow, just released from prison after doing 20 for murder in a convenience store robbery?

There are going to be questions. Buffy *should* be questioning whether everything she does, her whole Slayer mission, is right. She's been working on instinct and intuition for six years, and it's served her pretty well -- but it doesn't always serve those who are supposed to be on the side of good. Faith killed a human. Angel killed a demonic Champion. Buffy killed Riley's vamp-ho in ITW in a move that was so much out of anger and rage at Riley and herself, and so one-sided, that I'm more concerned that she doesn't feel guilt over that, than that she allegedly felt guilt over Katrina. That vampire-junkie girl seemed to be totally dependent on handouts/payments, and unllikely to harm any human, ever. How wasn't that murder on Buffy's part again? Oh, right, because she's a Vampire Slayer. She's got these cool powers and a destiny.

I'm pissy at As You Were itself not because I think Spike is too smart to get involved in the egg-smuggling-whatever, but because I damn well think he's too smart to hide the eggs in the chamber next to his bed --- you know, where he and Buffy do occasionally manage to fall before shagging like bunnies? She drops by unexpectedly all the time. He was going to what -- throw a blanket over them and claim to be redecorationg? He's not that stupid. Not even latter-season Spin-the-Wheel-and-Pick-a-Xander-Characterization is that stupid.

I'm also pissy at the ep because it didn't give any explanation of what Spike was supposed to be doing. It left us to believe that his entire plan was to sell the eggs on the black market -- though of course, he never got the chance to even try to explain himself, if there was an explanation, what with Buffy going back into punch-him-cos-I'm-pissed mode. Defenseless. Just because he's an asshole doesn't mean it's okay to hit him as an expression of her anger. Sure, he can hit her back, but she knows he won't, in that situation -- and moreover, she did it in front of Riley, who *would* have staked him for hitting back.

But mostly, my Spike-protector instincts are coming to the fore. It's okay to stake him, but not to torture him? Er? It's not okay to do either. When someone acts like a person, and you treat him like a person, you change the rules for whether you're allowed to dispense justice on him as if he's an animal. During Harsh Light of Day, it would have been appropriate to stake him. During The Initiative when he was attacking Willow, even though he was defenseless, it would have been appropriate to stake him, because they didn't *know* he was defenseless. Etc. But now?

Spike is about annoying the hell out of us, and making some of us lust, and showing that there's a mind and a set of emotions behind both of those things. He's about making Buffy question everything about who she is and what she does. And that's right and good. He's also about being a chracter in his own right, who doesn't need to be staked to prove that Buffy is finally acting in keeping with the viewers' version of morality.

Just. Arrgh.

Someday, I'll convince the world, including Joss, that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not about the little blonde girl walking down the spooky alley, who turns around and kicks the monster's ass. The first episode was about that. Possibly the first season. But it's not about Buffy anymore -- it's about the world she lives in, and her friends, and how they deal with it and her.

Buffy is not a moral person -- she never was. None of them were, really. Giles thinks she's a hero, and she is, but the only reason she couldn't have strangled Ben was her own cowardice in not wanting to *admit* that she does the same thing to other thinking creatures every day, and she can't allow herself to stop and consider that. Not because she was too good and pure to do it.

Buffy may need to develop a morality beyond her instincts, since those are failing her more an more often as she rediscovers what it is to be alive -- but there's more to the show than that. At least, there would be if Joss (or Marti, or David, or Jane) would bloody well wake up and pay attention to what they're doing!

Last thought: Spike. Human. They're Going There, with a capital G and T. Anvils bigger than Willow's druggie ones, imho. I thought I wanted that, to see what kind of person he would become -- but if it's just to make him palatable as Buffy's Perfect Man, I may gack.


zortified

2002-02-27 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Oo, very nicely put. I like it. I agree with all of it, too. ;-)

I'd like to see BtVS admit the show is about the[ir] world, and not about the blonde girl.

On the other hand, last night I didn't even drag myself over to the TV until 40 minutes into the show. All the episode did was make me yearn for storylines that never were, and wish things had gone differently. (I think, within the realm of Buffy's world, the one biggest mistake she made, was letting Riley go. IE, she should have been Xanslapped days before, so she could grab Riley before he left.) Buffy might not have had such rough times to strengthen her soul with -- but she would have been so much better off, now, if she'd had Riley there all along. Maybe she would have still died -- but Buffy might not have needed Giles to leave in order to force her to grow up. She'd certainly have had him helping raise Dawn.

He was one of the grownups, and he was smart, mature, and responsible. He might have been miserable staying in Sunnydale and being Mr. Buffy -- but I'm not saying leaving was a mistake for him. Just a mistake for Buffy. I think, large as the plot holes were for the Riley/Sam thing, that Riley is the only one of the group who has made something of himself, and is truly doing well. Xander's a close second, except for remaining moments of stupidity. Everyone else just seems miserable.

iroshi

2002-02-27 10:43 am (UTC) (Link)

I dunno; I think Tara is doing pretty good on making a grown-up out of herself. She stood up for herself even when it meant leaving the thing she loved the most in this world, and she doesn't seem to be being petty about letting Will back into her life gradually. She's still going to college and living her life. But then, maybe you don't think she counts as one of Them. ::shrug::

mpoetess

2002-02-27 10:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Tara (to me) is somewhat grown up -- and I like her immensely. But she still defines herself in relation to Willow. Just because she's physically left Willow doesn't mean that the Willow-definition has stopped.

The first thing Tara thought when Buffy contacted her about the bringing-Buffy-back spell was "What did Willow do now?" And I'm sure it's my hatred for the magic-addiction storyline showing through here, but though I loved Tara standing up to Anya for the sheer "Wow, Tara has BALLS!" aspect, I thought she was wrong. Not thinking clearly. Thinking more about Willow and her ::grits teeth:: addiction, than the safety of the guy in the red shirt upstairs.

I shrug too. I think Tara is closer to grown up than Buffy and Willow, certainly. Possibly closer than Anya and Xander, because I think they're playing house, rather than having any idea what they're doing. But Tara has a big, big blind spot, and that's Willow, in all her many complications.

Re:

iroshi

2002-02-27 01:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

And I'm sure it's my hatred for the magic-addiction storyline showing through here, but though I loved Tara standing up to Anya for the sheer "Wow, Tara has BALLS!" aspect, I thought she was wrong. Not thinking clearly. Thinking more about Willow and her ::grits teeth:: addiction, than the safety of the guy in the red shirt upstairs.

I've been annoyed by the ENTIRE magic addiction storyline. It pisses me off greatly. Here they have this wonderful chance to do the whole expansion on the morality theme they've been playing with, and do something on the distinction between dark and light magics (as far as I can see, Willow crossed that line when she brought Buffy back, using blood magic.) Though the almost throw-away comment Sam made last night about the two shamen who were doing dark magics, specifically, does imply that one doesn't get addicted to light magic, only dark...which was a good step, but needed to be said more clearly.

I understand that with both Willow and Buffy, they're going for the whole theme of finding strength inside yourself instead of from something external (in one case, power, and in the other, hiding from reality through sex), but I really REALLY dislike the way they went about it. It could have been much better done, though I think we're in agreement and are just jointly-ranting at this point. :)

faemovana

2002-02-27 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)

While I didn't see last night's episode I have to agree with most of what you've said in terms of Buffy not being perfect and needing to question herself and not treating Spike the way you've said she treated him.

Though I've not been in the Buffy fandom from the start I do have to say I've always wondered about how come it seems Buffy's never questioned what she's doing. Yes she's The Slayer and all but I would think that at some point she'd have to question what she's doing? If it's right or not?

As for Spike, I don't think I like what Joss has done with him this season. Not the Buffy/Spike thing, though I've never been a fan of that just cause it seemed too obvious a pairing to me, but the taking him from the "Evil Guy/Not so Evil Guy" to Buffy's Boyfriend...er, fuck buddy, sorry..I loved Spike as the snarky, will-he-or-won't-he-just-what-is-he-up-to? guy he was. I also thought he and Buffy had a better relationship when they hated each other. Well I liked seeing them together then..lol

Anyway, thanks for the ep summary, and I hope Joss has something in mind besides the whole, "make him palatable as Buffy's Perfect Man" thing you mention..cause yeah, gak!

mpoetess

2002-02-27 08:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmm -- thought #2 --

What exactly did Spike do that a human couldn't or wouldn't have done, in this episode? I'm missing that. Buffy would be justified in killing Spike for this alone but not in killing a human who might have done the same thing?

I think there is some mixing up of "Spike has no morality, or is barely learning to have one" with "Spike is a danger to self and others and must be destroyed."

Spike is a vampire. Such are (according David Fury, whose name I manage to say without spitting only because he's cute when holding up laundry) inherently evil.

Now, you either destroy all of them, everywhere, for that, regardless of what they're doing, who they're harming, even if they're sitting on a swingset with an ice cream cone in their hand -- or you base your killing of them on specific instances of behavior that put you or othets in danger. If you go with number two -- and Buffy has, repeatedly -- then those specific instances have to be something it would be okay to kill a similarly armed human for, in the same circumstances. If Buffy is to have any type of morality that I can stomach. In other words, Ethan Rayne would have been very likely to do exactly the same thing in the demon-egg situation. Would Buffy have been justified in killing him, as punishment for putting humans in potential danger? For, basically, illegal arms dealing? No? Then she wouldn't have been justified in killing Spike, for that action. She's not a judge -- she's a peace officer. Her job isn't to punish; it's to make things safe. If she's going to decide that making things safe includes destroying any intelligent creature that *could* cause harm to humans, or has in the past but isn't doing so at this moment -- then she might as well start in the prison system, and work her way outwards.

zortified

2002-02-27 08:33 am (UTC) (Link)

I suspect part of Buffy's problem is that the Slayers were intended to be Vampire Hunting Machines controlled by the Watcher's Council. That is - the Watchers would point the girl, and yell "slay!" and she would.

Kendra, for example, was the Council's perfect Slayer. She slayed vampires. She had no questions, if she had doubts she kept them deep within herself. The Council could have told her to kill anything, claimed it evil, and she would have - and, I think, had no moral qualms about it.

Buffy, however, has learnt that the Council is failable and that vampires cannot be defined as a species. In the beginning she did so -- if it was a monster, it was bad and had to die. Once she found out the man she had a crush on was a vampire, albiet cursed, she began to make expections.

She hasn't taken much more than the next step, though. She knows that not all vampires behave evilly. I think she did fool herself into thinking Spike is not evil, though, because he's been crippled by the chip. He did Good Things because he loves her, and because he wants her to love him back.

But Buffy can't just assume that any vampire who behaves well is ergo Not Evil. We don't know if Spike is good, evil, something in between. Neither does Buffy. But her world is complicated in a way that a Slayer's life is not supposed to be. Slayers are supposed to kill vampires. Killing other evil demons is a side-job, I think, but essentially they aren't supposed to transcend their place as well-trained grunt soldiers.

mpoetess

2002-02-27 09:12 am (UTC) (Link)

*nod*

I don't think Buffy and co should be assuming that any vampire who behaves well, is good and can be trusted, either. I think like everything else, trust is earned, and Spike keeps trying, and failing, at that. He might deserve a tentative amount of trust -- he won't harm me because he loves me, won't harm my friends because he knows I'd hate him forever, won't destroy the world because we know he wants it around-- but not to be tusted to know how to do the right thing in a situation that doesn't involve Buffy's immediate approval. Or to want to do the right thing.

Yargh. I get that. I want to see some consistent character development that deals with this. Watch him learn, and maybe even decide for himself. I suspect, though, that we're going to see him make a Wish. And then we're going to see William, Mark II.

That's not a bad thing, necessarily. I wouldn't be Going There in my futurefic, if I thought it was a bad thing. But in the One True Storyline, I think it might end up being a cop-out, if it's just done to show that only a human is worthy of being Buffy's love-bunny.

Hell, half the reason I haven't posted another human!Spike snippet yet is that I can't decide what puts Buffy out of reach for Spike, this time around. She has a lover already, and this time she's in *love*? Or a memory he can never compete with?

I want Spike being human to be about Spike being human. Finding out about the Spike character. How much is William again. How much is still Spike. How much of William was always there. Realizing he's going to die someday, as Anya has realized, and how he deals. Yes, I'm trying to arrange things for a Xander relationship in my story, because, hello, note name at top of journal? But also because -- as those people who've heard me playing with this in the planning stages know -- Xander has a similar character development to go through, and they'll suit each other. Learn from each other.

I don't want my human Spike to be about Buffy. She's there. She's much of why he came back -- but that's the draw, not the payoff.

God, I hope/wish ME were thinking the same thing. I fear not.

iroshi

2002-02-27 10:57 am (UTC) (Link)

But Buffy can't just assume that any vampire who behaves well is ergo Not Evil. We don't know if Spike is good, evil, something in between.

That assumes there is such a thing as inherent Evil, in which case we have to go back to the Vampires-are-Evil-kill-them-all mentality, which we've already thrown aside. If we throw that away, then we judge him based on his actions. What he is, honestly, is a completely self-centered person who subsists on blood products. He can't hurt or kill most humans, so that's not an issue...all of his actions can be assumed to be directed at benefit-to-self. These things that he does may or may not be legal, may or may not be actions that we consider "good"; primarily, he lets Buffy know the things he does that she will approve of, and hides the things that benefit him but that she won't like.

It comes down to -- he's doing illegal things, yes. Are they things Buffy could legitimately, morally kill him for? Probably not, unless she wants to go around killing any drug or arms dealers that she can find.

Basically, if Buffy wants to start deciding on whether she can kill entities based on whether they have souls...then I think she'd better start learning about God, and heaven, and hell, and philosophy, and all those things she told Spike she doesn't know anything about at the beginning of this season, because I don't think she's particularly qualified to judge whether entities have souls or not. And TPTB don't seem to be issuing her any bulletins.

(Deleted comment)

Re:

iroshi

2002-02-27 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, I'm not arguing with a single one of your points. I was only positing that, within the ethics that Buffy has repeatedly espoused (through her actions if not her words), she should not be killing Spike. That within-those-ethics bit is a HUGE caveat, and does not imply my own opinion on whether Spike should live or die. I'm just a huge zealot for internal self-consistency.

mpoetess

2002-02-27 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Except this is a fundamental part of the Buffyverse mythology, and has been from day one.

It has been "thrown aside" by the writers, yes, but in the bad sense--with no awareness of the implications, no attempt to replace it with any coherent system, all to keep around a popular character that they didn't even know what they were going to do with for a whole season.

That was stupid, and I'm not buying it.


But if the Buffyverse, in some sense, is now being shown to have levels of non-human "humanity" (intelligence, spirituality, redeemability, etc.) beyond those implied by Giles in Season 1, you can't just blow it off by stepping outside the interior universe's logic and saying that the writers sold out. It doesn't do your argument much good. Within the confines of the Buffyverse, either it's okay for Buffy to kill a thinking being who isn't actively threatening anyone at the moment, or it isn't. The issue of whether it has a soul now *is* a muddy one, and retreating to the values that were shown in Season 1 as being those of the Watcher's Council and Giles' history texts, and saying that they're the fundamental, underlying principles of the Buffyverse, doesn't work. You can't discuss the behaviour of current characters sensibly, if you're going to hold them to what you thought you knew about the mythology of the fictive universe after 12 episodes.


Beings with human-style souls have the capacity for profound moral transformation. Beings without do not. That's why it's okay for Buffy to stake just-risen vampires who have yet to do a damn thing against anyone--something that she has done repeatedly. They're evil and they're not capable of being anything else, long-term (and with vampires, the long term is forever).

Vamps just risen from the grave aren't thinking beings, as far as I can see. They're almost always shown as mindless animals, who begin to regain some memory and control after feeding and time. The first thing they seek is food, so Buffy is perfectly justified in stopping them from killing.

(con't)

mpoetess

2002-02-27 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hence, okay to stake Spike. Not okay to kill Ethan Rayne.


So, it's based on Buffy's judgement of their potential to ever change? Buffy's judgement? God help us. I don't think she thinks Ethan will ever change. I don't think Ethan will ever change, substantially. That doesn't mean I want to see him killed.


Buffy the vampire slayer just let a vampire who has repeatedly caused much death and suffering--_post-chip_--walk away to endanger people again.


And Xander apparently (in what I consider a spectacular piece of bad writing, but I'm going to treat it as canon unless someone shows me something onscreen that proves he was tricked into believing he'd done it) caused the deaths of at least one person, probably more, in OMWF. But he's souled, so it's okay. He gets to go "Oops!" and everything goes on as before.

Er, by the way, which deaths did Spike cause, post-chip? The only one I can think of is the girl Dru killed for him to drink from in the Bronze. Deaths in the Initiative? That was going to happen anyway -- that was Adam's deal, and the *only* thing Spike did was involve the Scoobies in it, which actually probably lessened the death-toll.

I repeat -- people are allowed to walk away all the time who have caused much death and suffering, but it's wrong for Buffy to kill them because they're human. It's okay to kill Spike because he's allegedly not capable of not being evil? I don't buy it. I think this is a case of the Buffyverse/Slayer mythology *always* having been smugly pro whoever's-in-charge, and Joss subtly (and not-so-subtly, depending on the quality of the ep) pointing out that he knows it. From Helpless on, everything said by the Council of Watchers, and therefore Giles insofar as he believes what he was taught, has been called into question. And that was, as far as I know, completely unrelated to Spike's popularity with the viewers.


I find these calls for clemency rather amusing, because I think that, should Spike's actions result in the deaths of one of the merciful's loved ones, that mercy would evaporate like dew in the morning sun.

I'm not calling for clemency. I'm saying that Buffy doesn't have the right to kill Spike. I'm suggesting that every death Buffy is responsible for is one that she should think about the necessity of.

Moreover, the Buffyverse is one where we *know* there is some sort of afterlife. That doesn't exactly mitigate the action of murder, but it makes me as "merciful one" less likely to want Spike killed if his actions had at some time resulted in the death of my loved one. In other words -- if I were living in the Buffyverse, but knew everything *we* know about the supernatural aspects of it, I don't know that that particular way of bringing it to a close personal level would work to shock me into hating Spike.

I'm really tired of seeing Spike's evil treated as though it doesn't count, because it doesn't result in the death of a beloved character. Those demons were horrible--wiping out whole villages of people, almost impossible to control. Yes, it damn well does matter that Spike was willing to deal them to evil people for money. He knew perfectly well that his actions would lead to hundreds of civilian deaths (something you can't even say of the average international arms dealer), and he didn't care. He just wanted to make some money. That's appalling.


And so are humans who do such things. Your justification for killing Spike is that he did these things and he doesn't have a humanlike soul. And I don't buy that it's a decent rationale.

I can't take any fan of Spike seriously who can't come to terms with the fact that he's capable of truly terrible things.

10 And so are humans.
20 Goto 10

And the average international arms dealer doesn't know that his actions could result in hundreds of civilian deaths? Er?

mpoetess

2002-02-27 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

The 80's BASIC geek in me says:

10 Print "And so are humans."
20 Goto 10

But this sounds snottier than I meant to.

What I mean is:

I'm aware that Spike has done great harm, and has potential to do great harm. *But* -- I don't believe Buffy or anyone is morally justified in killing him because of that potential, unless it's immediate, and intentional. Otherwise, she'd be morally justified in killing Giles for identical reasons.


sabershadowkat

2002-02-27 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm really tired of seeing Spike's evil treated as though it doesn't count, because it doesn't result in the death of a beloved character. Those demons were horrible--wiping out whole villages of people, almost impossible to control. Yes, it damn well does matter that Spike was willing to deal them to evil people for money. He knew perfectly well that his actions would lead to hundreds of civilian deaths (something you can't even say of the average international arms dealer), and he didn't care. He just wanted to make some money.


Yeah, but we never find out WHY he wanted the money. If I had to bet, I'd say he was going to give it to Buffy somehow. Which brings up the old 'stealing is bad, but if you steal because your loved one needs the medicine or she'll die...' argument.

And I just wanted the pimp chain gone, hence my Spike stakage. I'm superficially vindictive like that.

mpoetess

2002-02-27 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, you don't count -- you like that bald guy on that other show on that other network that Buffy used to be on.

Of course, so do most of my online friends...

I know your stake-thoughts are purely emotional pissiness at the characters making you feel like barfing right now. I'm down with that. I'm sincerely considering a petition to have Fred staked, for instance. Even though I *want* to like her, dammit.

My helpless arrgh-ing was mostly at the attitude that Riley was somehow a shining hero for offering to stake Spike, and Buffy should have done it long ago and blargh, blargh, blargh, and it's all about his abs for anyone who likes the character, in any way other than admiring the stylishness of his villainy. I like him. I find him distressingly human, even at his most amoral. I'd like to see him become something that the good guys could call a friend, even if he's never Good, insert uppercase letter here. I like his abs, but it's not about them, or his cheekbones, or his cute but sadly underfed ass. It's about his smile and his accent and the things his eyes do, and how he looks when he's truly, deeply hurt, or childishly happy.


On the egg front -- while I was arguing above purely on the basis of what it looked like happened, I suspect we haven't seen the last of this. I don't think he was the one selling them. This is just plot-hunch, not any kind of argument that Spike *wouldn't* do it, necessarily.

Re:

sabershadowkat

2002-02-27 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ooh, you think he could be selling them for Dawnto help her pay back the money? heh.

Hmm, I didn't think Riley was knightinshining anything. The whole ep had that ackward'boyfriend moved on, I did not' feel to it that's true to life. Riley shouldn't have staked Spike for Buffy, etc., and he wasn't going to. He had authorization to stake him because he was the 'bad' in this situation. Being with Buffy technically saved his skinny white vampie behind. He offered at the end simply because that's in his character:let the man handle it, youjust stayin the house honey. Buffy said no, Spike is not bad bad just idiotic bad.

Spike, though, is really really getting on my nerves. Not because I don't want to see the change, but becausenow he is too much love's bitch for me, personally. He lets Buffy treat him like crapand beat him up when she has a hissy.Okay, Buffy is a problem all of her own, but really! Get some balls, Spike, and tell the girl to stop. You can love her without allowing her to do such things, and it would be better for _her_ if she didn't.Sigh. oi. ugh.

I'm going back to my sexalicious bald guyand his jailbait farmboy.

lasayla

2002-02-28 08:14 am (UTC) (Link)

You like that bald guy on that other show on that other network that Buffy used to be on.

Gunn? ;)