Francine - harvest
I Blame the Dutch mpoetess
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It's far too late, and I am in bed, sleeping. One of my cats is typing this; I haven't yet decided which one. Tomorrow, I will think about first lines, and the MMoM (which I have a scary and probably never to be unleashed upon the public idea for) and possibly even Seeing Red. Though probably not, because my cat has this to say:



Nekkid cute (dysfunctional) lesbians! Whee! (Thought Tara had a few flat moments, oddly. "Oh, there was plenty of magic" was just a clinker of a line, though, so I forgive Amber.)

Slashy cute (criminal) geeks! Whee! (Andrew is so being fucked by Warren. Or wanting to be fucked by Warren. And possibly by Spike.) Er, Andrew is cute. Warren is not. Warren needs to be in a plexiglass cell.

Okay, that over with,

The Scene. I liked it. I was disturbed by it. The acting was exceptional, the direction was skilled, the cinematography was... did I say disturbing? But good.

I think -- think -- I'm not up for defending Spike in this instance. Not defending in the "Were his actions defensible/is there ever a situation in which they could have been right?" sense. No. They weren't. There isn't.

But -- do I think his actions at any time in this episode were evil? No. Which is why I think the evilistas who are jumping up and down and shouting nyah nyah will find their joy shortlived. His actions weren't evil -- they were sick. And not incurably sick -- because he recognized that they were wrong, after he was brought up short. It doesn't matter in this sense whether that was before or after the fact. In fact, the fact that he only recognized it was wrong after the fact makes an even better case for him *not* being either evil or sociopathic in his act.

Evil would have gone in with the intent to hurt. Sociopathic would have realized at some point that he was hurting her, scaring the hell out of her, and not cared. In my viewing of the scene, I saw darkness and desperation and a determination to make her love him -- but his reaction after Buffy kicked him off, the shock, suggests that he truly didn't realize he'd done something so awful, until she took that step. He wasn't disregarding wrongness in order to get what he wanted -- he was insanely unaware of wrongness -- but when he *was* made aware of it, he felt remorse, and self-disgust.

Someone -- many someones probably -- will want to jump in and say that remorse after the fact doesn't excuse his action, and this is true. I'm not defending his action. (I still stand by my assertion that his action was the culmination of a psychological situation that Buffy contributed to just as much as he had, but that doesn't make it not wrong, or make the specific action Buffy's fault.)

Remorse after the fact -- when it's brought to his attention that there's something to feel remorse about -- shows me, though, that he isn't completely evil, and the sort of human insanity that he may parallel is *not* sociopathy. Sociopaths do not feel remorse. They don't get confused by what their place is in the world, and wish that they didn't feel remorse, and make big shivery dark statements about big changes coming soon, oh yeah. (*) What Spike showed was a form of insanity that might or might not be "curable" by the application of time, or forgiveness, or understanding, or, yes, a soul. Yes -- his actions were sick. The relationship was sick, and his actions were at least twice as sick, and I'm not suggesting they weren't.

Do we kill sick people? Do we say that they *deserve* to be executed? Or do we try to treat them? If they're a continuing danger to humanity, we lock them away. If they can't be treated -- and imho, no one has ever tried to "treat" Spike in any conclusive way -- we do the same. Lock them away. But we don't kill them. Is it okay to kill him because Spike's a vampire and Buffy has license to kill vampires to protect the world? Hmm. Did he rip Buffy's throat out? Or did he commit a purely human crime/act of insanity?

Granted, as an anti-death-penalty person, I'm not the most unbiased in this area. I don't think anyone has the moral right to kill. As revenge, as punishment, as any damn thing except defense. I don't believe anyone has the moral right to kill Warren for murdering Tara (though, sickly, I'm going to enjoy watching Willow do it) or the moral right to kill Spike for almost raping Buffy. Of the two, though? Warren gets my stake in his heart first. Because he went in meaning to hurt -- Buffy -- and didn't care that he killed -- Tara. That makes him evil in a way that Spike wasn't in this ep, and sociopathic in a way that Spike also wasn't.

But -- back to why I think my friends and fellow writers who are fans of shivery evil Spike won't be singing the neener song for long: is Spike going to come back the sinister scary Big Bad? Spoilers don't point that way, and neither do my instincts. Hey -- if I'm wrong, I'm wrong. It won't be the first time. But what I see happening is Spike getting a monkey's paw, when he wanders off to darkest Afrique to get whatever it is he's supposed to be seeking.

I see human Spike coming out of this. Because the soul is Angel's gig, and while souled Spike is cool for fanfic, I don't see it happening in the extended canonverse. But human? Angel's been promised this at a time that's conceivably some distant post-series future. Another vampire character getting it in the present doesn't take away from Angel's specialness.

This is plot stuff -- just that. Just me saying I *don't* think this ep marks the return of School Hard Spike, or even Becoming Spike. I think the big changes are going towards something else.

And this is opinion stuff -- if Spike comes to a concrete understanding that what he did in Seeing Red was wrong, and makes some sort of apology that Buffy accepts, I don't believe it will be selling her character short. Making misogynistic (and I fear the way that word gets tossed around fandom, but that's another issue) statements about a once feminist icon. Because in the case of any individual human, it's her choice to forgive an act of harm done to her. And if Buffy is ever going to resonate for me as a character, it has to be because she's human. *Not* because she's a small blonde girl in stylish yet affordable boots who kicks ass in a world where small blonde girls in stylish yet affordable boots don't usually kick ass. I'm not a small blonde girl in stylish yet affordable boots. Never have been, never will be. I am, however, a human.


(*) Footnote: Which, bravado much? Spike *wants* to be only evil again, because that's easier. It doesn't hurt. Love hurts. Rejection hurts. And yes, remorse hurts, and he doesn't want to hurt. Oh, yes. He doesn't want to take responsibility for having done something wrong -- he argues against it, to himself. He rides off, growling about change, and looking sinister. S'crap. It's no more and no less than Xander's need to tell pointless jokes that cover up what an insecure little boy he is. (**)

Footnotenote: Which, er, go Anya, except, at the heart of it, why is it *wrong* that Xander's a scared insecure little boy? He's 21. He's been put down all his life. He's always felt useless and marginalized. And he hides this behind pointless jokes? How terrible of him. Considering the number of needlessly hateful ways that *most* scared insecure little boys try to hide.

I want to hug them both. Then smack them both. Then hug them again and point them at anyone but each other, because yes, they *are* wrong, so wrong. But still. Ow. And how much do I love Xander, when he *finally* comes to Buffy, and they talk? There is no such thing as too little too late. Needs to be such a scene with Anya, even if it's about them having blown it for good.

Oh yeah -- and Tara died. There were no tears. I will cry next week, or possibly tomorrow when I watch it again. I'm... I *love* Tara. But like Jess, I think it will take next episode to get my tears flowing.

saava

2002-05-08 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Hi.

Got here through a LJ hopping (friend of a friend of a friend stuff) and I love your post. You said what I wanted to say, only intelligently.

I think I love you.

I wish *my* cats had stayed up and typed stuff for me. I think there was a fit of post-Seeing Red insomnia last night.

mpoetess

2002-05-08 09:19 am (UTC) (Link)

My cats love you too!


(no subject) - saava, 2002-05-08 11:28 am (UTC) (Expand)

iroshi

2002-05-08 06:39 am (UTC) (Link)

In my viewing of the scene, I saw darkness and desperation and a determination to make her love him -- but his reaction after Buffy kicked him off, the shock, suggests that he truly didn't realize he'd done something so awful, until she took that step.

May I point out that the first time Spike and Buffy slept together, and several times since then, all he had to do to rouse her passion was to fight with her. I don't think, like I suspect some do, that he was trying to rape her in any way...he just wanted to get her mad at him so she'd fight him and then love him, like she's done so many times before.

I think -- think -- I'm not up for defending Spike in this instance. Not defending in the "Were his actions defensible/is there ever a situation in which they could have been right?" sense. No. They weren't. There isn't.

Defensible? No, not really...except that Buffy has been in the *habit* of telling him no when she really *does* mean yes. It's understandable that he act wrongly when he's been getting confused signals from the start. Do I still think what he did was wrong? Of course. I just don't think Buffy was strictly a victim in this instance...and Spike did stop when he realized she was actually serious this time. I don't think it had anything to do with, "Because I *stopped* you," because seriously, she's kicked him across the room before and they went ahead and fucked. I think it had to do with him realizing she was freaking out...and he was honestly confused as to why.

Needs to be such a scene with Anya, even if it's about them having blown it for good.

He *tried* to have such a scene with Anya, and she refused to listen to him. She was too busy trying to figure out why her cursing didn't work.

Oh yeah -- and Tara died. There were no tears. I will cry next week, or possibly tomorrow when I watch it again. I'm... I *love* Tara. But like Jess, I think it will take next episode to get my tears flowing.

We weren't supposed to cry this time. It was too sudden, too harsh. Tears don't come right away when something happens, shock does. It will be the grief of the characters, when we get to see it next week, that will make us cry. The shot, and the fall...yes, our brains know something tragic happened, but we haven't seen the aftermath. We're not living the show, after all, and it's over for us at the end of the hour and we go on about our lives. Next week, when we return to that universe for an hour, then it will hurt. Now? Now it's just a TV show. ^_^ I cried last week when Tara and Willow got back together. The line, "Can we just skip all that, and can you just be kissing me now?" will stick in my brain for a long, long time. I didn't cry this week, though I laughed out loud a few times, like when Andrew admitted he was in love with Warren, or Dawn's gleeful, "I am so not here! I'll just go downstairs and watch TV, loud, in the basement." I expect I'll be crying next week.

I'm not a small blonde girl in stylish yet affordable boots.

I'm a medium auburn girl in stylish yet affordable boots, does that count? ^_^

(Deleted comment)
Re: what she said - mpoetess, 2002-05-08 09:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: what she said - iroshi, 2002-05-08 10:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: what she said - iroshi, 2002-05-08 10:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: what she said - mpoetess, 2002-05-08 02:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: what she said - ex_kimera823, 2002-05-08 06:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: what she said - iroshi, 2002-05-08 06:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mpoetess, 2002-05-08 09:21 am (UTC) (Expand)

wolfling

2002-05-08 07:09 am (UTC) (Link)

What you said. Or possibly your cats.

You managed to be much more coherent than I think I was last night.

And y'know, if the theme of this season is really "oh, grow up!" that applies as much to Spike as it does to any of the others. This is a stumble on his own growth curve, one that has sent him scrabbling for the "safe" past, fiercely trying to backpedal and unknow and unlearn what he's accomplished in the last two years.

But I think you're right. I think this trip to Africa and attempt at going back is only going to lead him forward in spite of himself.

And another point that maybe should be pointed out to those who can't or won't look beyond the School Hard Spike -- Joss has repeatedly said that Buffy is about shattering expectations and looking beyond the surface. That can be applied as much to Spike, vampire=evil and irredeemable as Buffy, petite blonde girl=victim.

I don't know what they're going to do with Spike on the show, but I'm pretty sure it's not just going to be have him revert to the "Big Bad" that he was when he was originally introduced. He has evolved and he's going to continue to evolve.

I'm also fairly sure that they're not going to stake him any time soon -- and I wouldn't be surprised if Buffy eventually does forgive him.

mpoetess

2002-05-08 09:30 am (UTC) (Link)


And another point that maybe should be pointed out to those who can't or won't look beyond the School Hard Spike -- Joss has repeatedly said that Buffy is about shattering expectations and looking beyond the surface. That can be applied as much to Spike, vampire=evil and irredeemable as Buffy, petite blonde girl=victim.


And I think some people will say "But that's what *Angel* was for. Shattering that expectation." Which, um, no. Angel started out as a good guy. We're quite used to sympathetic vampire characters -- Louis springs immediately to mind (um, wonder why). Henry in Tanya Huff's "Blood..." series. Saint Germain. Fred Saberhagen's version of Dracula. Nick Knight. Angel didn't shatter any stereotypes of vampire=bad. He perpetuated the stereotype of "Good vampire=tortured but trustworthy" until Angelus broke it, and A:tS Angel gave it shades and depth. What we've almost never seen is a vampire character who starts out evil, but is *shown* changing. Vs. entering the picture already changed.

(Deleted comment)

mpoetess

2002-05-08 09:35 am (UTC) (Link)

*nods*

I don't say it wasn't rape (or aborted rape) but "attempted rape" somehow sounds wrong, because it gives me a connotation that he *intended* to purposely have sex with her even though she didn't want him. When what I saw was a physical, brutal attempt to make her *want* him. He did care about that -- that was what it was all about. Still awful, still wrong, still insane, still part of what we (and Buffy) would define as rape or sexual assault. But at no time was he trying to harm her, to make her hurt because she made him hurt, or just because he's evil and making people hurt is fun.

(no subject) - journalkitten, 2002-05-08 06:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)

thebratqueen

2002-05-08 09:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Word, word, wordy McWord. I'll try to write out my own impressions later but I doubt I'll do as good a job of it as you did.

mpoetess

2002-05-08 09:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Snert. Wordy McWord. Snert.

I stayed up til 4, and got up at 7. I'm easily amused. ;-)

(no subject) - crackedverse, 2002-05-08 09:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thebratqueen, 2002-05-08 02:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)

byrne

2002-05-08 09:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Yep, yep and yep.

I agree completely with you, and I said much the same thing (less eloquently) to my husband. He didn't see the episode but was really surprised when I finished watching it and actually felt BETTER about Spike than I did after he slept with Anya.

I really didn't want to watch Seeing Red after reading the wildfeed but, as usual, the episode was so much better than the spoilers. I hereby swear off wildfeeds. (We'll see how that goes...)

mpoetess

2002-05-08 09:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Yeah, I've sworn off wildfeeds too.

Until next week, at least. Definitely. Snicker.

I loved the Spike/Anya sex. Or "Spankya" as some people are calling it, which tickles me. What they did was one of the few completely understandable and non-harmful acts of the episode and possibly of the season. By non-harmful, I mean there was no way that they they could have known there was a camera in the Magic Box, and their behavior was *only* meant to bring confort to themselves and each other, without intending anyone else to ever know about it.

(no subject) - byrne, 2002-05-08 09:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mpoetess, 2002-05-08 09:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - byrne, 2002-05-08 09:51 am (UTC) (Expand)

kita0610

2002-05-08 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Here is why I see Spike as sociopathic, and evil: Back in the crypt, no one there but himself (later Clem with wings, but I digress) and he was STILL insisting it was all Buffy's fault. That bitch. What did she do to me. He felt bad because he was stopped, because he got caught, because she was mad at him, and because he didn't get what he wanted. Not because he realized he did a horrible thing and immediately set about trying to change it. His first instinct was still self-preservation and getting his own desires met. Pretty classic rapist behavior.

Can Joss make him redeemable? Sure. Joss can turn him into a gerbil if he wants to. And knowing Joss, I'd probably buy it if he did. (Unfortunately, it's Noxon at the helm next year, and I don't trust her character development or commitment to the feminist ideal much, but I digress again..) But that's not the point of the scene.

-D

mpoetess

2002-05-08 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

But I think you're seeing what you want to there, Donna. He also says "What did I do?" Then "Why didn't I do it?"
"What has she done to me?"

That's much more complex than "Spike's blaming his behavior on Buffy."

I saw *nothing* there that was saying "That bitch stopped me." Spike is trying to blame his conflicted emotions on Buffy, not the rape. He's saying "What did she do to me, that I suddenly feel guilty about soimething that as a supposedly evil demon, I *shouldn't* feel guilty about."

And the term "sociopathic" still doesn't work for me-- because it's a term that refers to people who are *not* conflicted. They have no doubt whatsoever that everything they do is right. Which isn't the case at all with Spike. If you want to call him a monster, fine, call him a monster. That's a term that certainly fits him in many interpretations. But "sociopath" isn't accurate -- it's just a word people are using as an epithet, because they associate it with "monster."

(no subject) - kita0610, 2002-05-08 03:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mpoetess, 2002-05-08 05:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kita0610, 2002-05-08 06:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mpoetess, 2002-05-08 05:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kita0610, 2002-05-08 06:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
halleluja end of reply - Anonymous, 2002-05-08 06:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - iroshi, 2002-05-08 02:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kita0610, 2002-05-08 03:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: - iroshi, 2002-05-08 04:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - Anonymous, 2002-05-08 05:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)

Sociopaths are human. Spike is not human. QED

zvi_likes_tv

2002-05-08 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

I know that people like to talk about whether or not Spike is a sociopath, or whether they'd like to execute him or throw him in prison forever or whatever, but I think we're all measuring Spike on the wrong scale.

Which is not to say that I don't find Spike's actions wrong, Buffy doesn't find Spike's actions wrong, and Spike doesn't find Spike's actions wrong. We all think he was wrong, and we're having varying reactions to that.

But here's the thing. When people say, "Is Spike a sociopath?" they're asking, "Does Spike see other people as real people?" But because Spike is a vampire and humans are food, it is not a sign of mental disease or defect for him to think of human beings like, well, Happy Meals on legs, rather than as people.

Which doesn't mean it's not evil for him to run around terrifying and killing and pillaging through Europe, even if he doesn't think humans are people. It's perfectly possible to be cruel and evil and wrong to cows, but there are a lot of people on the planet who won't see you as wrong for merely eating them. But when I see that sort of thing happening, I don't get emotionally invested in it, in the same way that I wouldn't get emotionally invested in a cat killing mice. Vampires kill people, cats kill mice, hurricanes knock over houses in Florida. That's the way the world works.

What is so horrible about Spike nearly raping Buffy is that he had clearly seen Buffy as a person, she was on his list of 'Don't harm, do protect.' And then he failed to listen to her as a real person and was harming her. And if he loved her, and not just the idea of her, then he wouldn't have done that.

shadowscast

2005-05-01 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Coming in way, way after the fact (via a link at http://ficbitch.com/almightygah/rantseeingred.html), I just want to say I'm glad you wrote this.

mpoetess

2005-05-02 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

We'll note that my human!Spike spec was completely wrong mildly off base, though. *g*