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Meta: Spike's soulquest

1st June 2007 (15:51)
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It seems to have become a habit of mine to post meta here inspired by discussion over at elisi 's journal - in this case, it's thoughts about Spike's soulquest at the end of season 6. This is an adapted version of something I originally wrote on atbvs about a year ago.



The question is, why did Spike go on the quest to Africa? The "correct" answer - supported by comments made by Joss and the writers, not to mention Spike's own words in season 7, and on season 5 of Angel - is that he wanted his soul back all along. All that talk about the chip was deliberately misleading, leading up to what Joss called "a little something I invented called a 'plot twist'". Unfortunately, the fake-out was so good (not even James Marsters knew the real story during filming...) that the twist seems to come too much out of the blue for many people. There just seems to be nothing in Spike's dialogue leading up to the last scene in 'Grave' that would support the idea that he really did go for his soul.

What I'm going to do here, therefore, is to analyse in detail Spike's words, especially during the scene in his crypt with Clem during 'Seeing Red' when he decided to go on the quest to Africa. I'm going to try to show that despite all his talk about the chip, this wasn't really what lay behind that decision; it was only the catalyst.




We start with Spike re-living his attack on Buffy over and over again, and acting distressed and angry. Important to note: he's not angry at Buffy for stopping him raping her, as certain people have occasionally claimed (on the basis, presumably, that he was so angry at her that he decided to get the chip out to "teach her a lesson"). Otherwise he'd be re-living her kicking him away and telling him to back off, wouldn't he? No. He's shocked at what he did; he's angry at himself.

SPIKE: What have I done? 

Now, I'm not going to claim that he's all surprised and shocked at the revelation that he's a (potential) rapist; he's certainly already well aware of that. Hello, vampire? In fact his next comment confirms it: 

SPIKE: Why didn't I do it? What has she done to me? 

No, I think Spike is shocked at the discovery that he is capable of hurting Buffy, when he swore he'd never ever do that. ("I don't hurt you") When I say 'hurting' we're talking about emotional pain, of course - physical pain is no big deal to a Slayer and a vampire, especially given their past history with each other. He went to her to apologise, perhaps even to get back together with her... and ended up doing the one thing that will almost guarantee she'll never give him another chance. No wonder he's horrified and angry at himself; he's blown it with her. And yes, that's a selfish, even an evil motivation... 

...but there's the other part of it. When she kicked him away, he stopped. The old Spike wouldn't have done that... we saw in 'Fool For Love' that when a Slayer kicks him down he shouts in exultation and jumps right back into the fight. Not this time, though... he looked horror-stricken at his own actions, and slunk off in guilt and shame. Remorse is really not a feeling that vampires are accustomed to, and it can't be very pleasant to experience for the first time. Not to mention confusing.

CLEM: Oh. The Slayer, huh? Gosh. She break up with you again?
SPIKE: We were never together. Not really. She wouldn't lower herself that far. [...] Why do I feel this way?
CLEM: Love's a funny thing.
SPIKE: Is that what this is?

He's feeling emotions that are totally unfamiliar to him. (Well, maybe not totally, but you can forget a lot in 120 years of slaughter.) He's searching for an explanation. He's also finally admitting some unpalatable truths about himself and about Buffy - that she really didn't love him, that he did misjudge their relationship completely. And yes, he's angry at himself but also angry with her - "she wouldn't lower herself" to be with him is hardly complimentary. 

And now he starts talking about the chip. Which, to be sure, is the start of the misdirection. But let's see what he actually says:

SPIKE: I can feel it. Squirming inside my head.
CLEM: Love?
SPIKE: The chip. Little Jiminy Cricket, gnawing bits and chunks. [...] Everything used to be so clear. Slayer. Vampire. Vampire kills Slayer, sucks her dry, picks his teeth with her bones. That's how it's always been. I've tasted the life of two Slayers. But with Buffy... This isn't the way it's supposed to be. It's the chip. Steel and wires and silicon. It won't let me be a monster. And I can't be a man. I'm nothing.

First, he's still expressing his confusion at the emotions filling his head... and blaming the chip. Because, after all, what else is there to blame? What else has changed in his world? But compare Spike's feelings here to how he was in seasons 4 and 5, when he also raged against the chip.

From 'The Yoko Factor':
ADAM: You feel smothered. Trapped like an animal, pure in its ferocity, unable to actualize the urges within... Clinging to one truth like a flame struggling to burn within an enclosed glass... That a beast this powerful cannot be contained. Inevitably it will break free and savage the land again... I will make you whole again. Make you savage.

From 'Crush':
DRUSILLA: I don't believe in science. All those bits and molecules no one's ever seen. I trust eyes and heart alone. And do you know what mine are singing out now? You're a killer. Born to slash and bash and bleed like beautiful poetry. No little tinkertoy ever could stop you from flowing. [...] I can see it. Little bit of plastic spiderwebbing out nasty blue shocks - and every one, is a lie. Electricity lies, Spike. It tells you you're not a bad dog. But you are. You're my bad dog and you bite.

Back then it was all so clear: Spike's primal killer instincts were merely restrained by the chip. (Although it's significant that both those speeches were by other people trying to manipulate Spike, not his own words). Now, though, he's not complaining about being unable to rampage and kill, which is a fairly simple problem. Instead, he's torn by unfamiliar emotions and problems he can't see an answer to. The problem is not that he can't hurt Buffy (and anyway, he clearly can hurt her): he's complaining that hurting her makes him feel bad.
So what can he do? 

It won't let me be a monster. And I can't be a man.

That's the crucial line. And the key to it is this: the chip won't let Spike be a monster... but he doesn't want to be a monster. Not anymore. Not now that he's seen how easily he can turn on Buffy, hurt her, drive her away. 

But if he doesn't want to be a monster, how can he be a man? It's impossible. Buffy might have treated him like one, on the good days ('The Gift') but he knows, now more than ever, that it's only ever a pretence. A façade. 

Except...

CLEM: Hey. Come on now, Mr. Negative. You never know what's just around the corner. Things change.
SPIKE: They do... If you make them.

In that moment, he had his epiphany. He remembered the legend about the cave in Africa and the demon that could restore souls (or grant wishes, whatever...). He realised that he *could* become a man; that instead of being either a demon or a leashed demon, he could become something more. 

SPIKE: She thinks she knows me. She thinks she knows who I am. What I'm capable of. She has no idea. I wasn't always this way. It won't be easy, but I can be like I was. Before they castrated me. Before... Then she'll see who I really am. 

More misdirection, perhaps. But notice the *two* 'before's... "Before they castrated me" and then a second 'before'... before what? "Before I lost my soul", perhaps? 

Some people think that this is just Spike's Mwah-ha-ha speech: he's going to get himself turned back into the old unchipped Spike so he can rampage and be evil and hurt the people Buffy loves. (Remember, he already can hurt Buffy herself; the chip doesn't work on her.) 

However, we should consider that Buffy knows full well what unchipped Spike was like, and what he was capable of. That wouldn't surprise her. Souled Spike - William - certainly would, however... But the irony is, of course, that Spike doesn't really know what having the soul will do to him either. I doubt he thinks it'll turn him back into an ineffectual Victorian dilletante... I'm sure he's self-confident enough to think that the essentials of the personality he constructed for himself will remain. Except he'll have a soul. And, presumably, not be Evil any more (or at least have the option). And he'll be complete, a man again, able to face Buffy as an equal. No longer a monster. 

So why does Spike keep going on about the chip? (Other than, y'know, to fool the audience). Because he blames it for getting him into this situation in the first place. Before the chip, everything was black and white, and Buffy was just another Slayer to kill or be killed by. After the chip, Spike spent enough time in Buffy's company to fall in love with her. Which has brought all kinds of emotional torment to his life, so of course he's pretty angry about it.. But the chip is old news. He's had two years to get used to it. His motivation now is to solve his problem with Buffy. 



Why does Spike go for his soul? Not self-preservation: he certainly doesn't give the slightest indication that he's just looking for an excuse for Buffy not to stake him. There is some evidence that he wants to make himself worthy of her, so she will no longer consider him 'beneath her'... and that's backed up by his comments in the next two episodes about "giving the bitch what she deserves."  (Amusingly, One Bit Shy once suggested that he actually did think the soul would turn him back into William the simpering mummy's boy, and that this would serve Buffy right for complaining about his soullessness. It's a nice idea, but like I said above, i think Spike's ego is large enough to think he'd survive the process with his personality intact.)

Mostly, though, I think it's more self-centred. The soulquest is the only way left for him to resolve the fundamental question of who he really is.  He's horrified at the monster: so he will rediscover the man. Or die trying.

Comments

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 15:33 (UTC)
Spike - fighting for his soul by awmp

This is excellent! *claps*

Two points: This bit of dialogue:

SPIKE: She thinks she knows me. She thinks she knows who I am. What I'm capable of. She has no idea. I wasn't always this way. It won't be easy, but I can be like I was. Before they castrated me. Before... Then she'll see who I really am.

...did *not* make it onto the screen. All we see is "If you make them!" And then it cuts away. Next glimpse of Spike is when he's on the motorbike! So we do not need to analyse those words. He never said them.

The reason I am so confident - and remember this point - is because I've been discussing the matter with OBS (whose theory made me scratch my head very much). (My latest actual argument, which does include a lot of what you've said here, except not as concisely, is #10 if you feel like having a look!)

Also shipperx once wrote one of the best explanations for the crypt scene:

See, I think there are fundamental differences in interpretation because I think the point of the Crypt scene in Seeing Red is to show that Spike really never comprehended the difference in a real way. That's the point of being soulless. It's not that they cannot intellectualize the difference between right and wrong, it's that they cannot FEEL it. The significance of the crypt scene, and what spurred him on to Africa, is because for one moment he glimpsed what he didn't understand (it's the old you don't know what you don't know... until of course, you're faced with your ignorance). Spike THOUGHT he was as good as souled, but he was confronted with the dichotomy of the AR. It violated the promise that he had intended to keep, that he meant to keep, and that meant something to him... and he didn't even feel the point where he crossed the line. When he, in shock, was forced back to look and to realize, he finally "got" that he was missing something, that something was wrong. And it was wrong because he's in such confusion. A vampire SHOULDN'T care. A vampire DOESN'T care, and yet this wasn't something he had intended. He loved her. He really truly loved her and he would never have intended that, but there it was. And he wanted to change that, to fix it.

The point, to me, was that he finally "got" that without the soul he was missing an internal boundary so in a very visceral way (instead of an intellectual one) he didn't "get" the difference between right and wrong. He might well be able to read the labels between "this is right" and "this is wrong" but he couldn't FEEL it and know it on a gut level until he had the epiphany... and that was in the wake of "the incident."

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 16:07 (UTC)

*bows* Although don't you hate it when the shooting scripts are inaccurate?

I agree with shipperx's analysis, except maybe for the point about "Spike THOUGHT he was as good as souled". Maybe in season 5, with the 'not feeding off bleeding disaster victims" thing, but in season 6 I'd challenge that he thought being souled was a good thing at all. He'd tried rising to Buffy's level the year before; this year, he thought Buffy had sunk to his. But really, I don't think he gave the soul much thought.

He's distressed about breaking his word, about hurting the woman he claims to love, about ruining his chances with her. Mostly, though, he's confused about the fact that he does feel distressed. Vampires aren't supposed to feel that way... (I think it was OBS who argued that the chip effectively allowed him to brainwash himself, wasn't it?). So he wants to find out who he really is - and the one thing he's lacking, that everyone tells him is important, is a soul. So he decides to see if that's the answer.

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 18:01 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:07 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:16 (UTC)

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 15:54 (UTC)

Good meta. Agree with none of it personally but well illustrated and with good examples to support your thesis.

"He's horrified at the monster: so he will rediscover the man. Or die trying. "

The problem being that he undermines the entire meta psychical underpinnings of the show turning Buffy and all slayers/heroes into murderers. Plus of course the demon that is Spike had already murdered William. That is the biggest crime the writers committed in keeping a character around past his useful life.

Personally I think everything Spike ever did is motivated entirely out of selfish own interest.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 16:12 (UTC)

Thanks - having your arguments complimented by someone who disagrees with them is always the most valuable sort of praise. :)

Regarding Buffy & co being murderers - I've always thought of them more as soldiers. They're fighting a war to defend humanity against evil, and the fact that some of the enemy soldiers could be perfectly decent people given the chance isn't really relevant. If you see someone in the enemy's uniform holding a gun, you don't normally stop to ask him if he's really loyal to the enemy cause, or if he's aver considered changing sides - you just shoot him. (If he throws his gun down or tries to surrender, of course, that's a different matter. It's why Buffy often didn't bother to kill demons who were running away, or just minding their own business).

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 16:33 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 17:46 (UTC)

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 18:05 (UTC)

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Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:42 (UTC)

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Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:40 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 20:06 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 20:12 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 21:31 (UTC)

Posted by: prophecygirrl (prophecygirrl)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 17:57 (UTC)

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 18:25 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 18:50 (UTC)

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:03 (UTC)

Posted by: rowynnecrowley (rowynnecrowley)
Posted at: 10th December 2008 16:49 (UTC)

Posted by: prophecygirrl (prophecygirrl)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:12 (UTC)

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Posted by: The Deadly Hook (thedeadlyhook)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 17:30 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 18:20 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 18:49 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:12 (UTC)

Posted by: rowynnecrowley (rowynnecrowley)
Posted at: 10th December 2008 16:56 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 10th December 2008 17:04 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:28 (UTC)

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Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 21:45 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 22:52 (UTC)

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 2nd June 2007 18:05 (UTC)

Posted by: red_satin_doll (red_satin_doll)
Posted at: 16th September 2012 16:46 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2012 21:38 (UTC)

Posted by: red_satin_doll (red_satin_doll)
Posted at: 17th September 2012 18:05 (UTC)

Posted by: Just A Kiss Away (lostakasha)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 17:25 (UTC)
Angel blue

Excellent meta post with lots to consider; I'm linking this in today's su_herald.

However :) I'm in agreement with tessarin that Spike's soul quest seems more about ME wanting to keep Marsters on the payroll and the fanbase happy than genuinely creating a meaningful story arc.

Angel/Angelus the other vampire with a soul is very different and therefore supports the metaphysics of the universe. Spike undermines it.

Absolutely. That's clearer still in Season 5 A:tS in the contentious relationship between Spike and Angel and the mentions of whose soul was more, well, soulful. Angel contests, and rightly so IMO, that Spike got his soul to get the girl, and resents that he spent "three weeks moaning in a basement" before blithely taking on the mantle of souled vamp.

As much as I mourn the loss of A:ts, by the end of season 5 I'd begun to tire pretty quickly of the manufactured "who's got the better soul" dynamic -- it felt to me that the writers were trying to work with retcon, and failing.

This is a terrific discussion -- great to see such detailed and thoughtful analysis.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 18:35 (UTC)

Thanks! (also, yay! :) )

Spike's soul quest seems more about ME wanting to keep Marsters on the payroll and the fanbase happy

Hmm. If you'd said the chip, rather than the soul, I'd have agreed with you 100%. But I think the decision to have Spike get his soul back was a new, original story they chose to tell; if all they cared about was having Spike on the show at all, they could have left him with the chip.

If anything, they made their life harder with ensouling him, because it meant they would have to deal with the comparison with Angel. I'm pretty sure the rivalry with him on Angel was an attempt to address this problem, not the reason they did it in the first place. As you say, they were working with the retcon.

I'm glad they didn't make souled Spike a carbon copy of Angel. Brooding really isn't in his character, after all - but that doesn't mean that he was unaffected by it all. It's about him letting enemies run away rather than tearing them to pieces, because he doesn't have the same killer instinct as before. It's about him doing good because it's the right thing to do, not because it's the noble thing to do - note the subtle difference.

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 21:06 (UTC)

If anything, they made their life harder with ensouling him, because it meant they would have to deal with the comparison with Angel.

Also, writers made their life harder with ensouling him, because writing soulless Spike was easier, snark and all.

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 21:22 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 3rd June 2007 21:23 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 18:10 (UTC)
souling

Excellent essay. I agree entirely (which doesn't stop me wishing that JM had known what Spike's motivation was a little earlier - he's a subtle enough actor to give a more nuanced performance than he did in Villains and TtG and still not give away the plot twist).

I always felt that if he was angry at Buffy at all after the attempted rape (and no, that whole he was angry at her becuase he didn't succeed in raping her never made sense to me either - he'd have gone for her again while she was still weak and in shock, if that were the case) it was precisely because he didn't think he ought to care about what he'd done and yet he very obviously did. You've articulated that brilliantly.

Is it okay if I friend you?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 18:25 (UTC)

Thanks - and yes, be my guest.

I'm inclined to agree that elaborate fake-outs stretching over several episodes aren't always a good idea, though it varies. 'What is Dawn?' was a good one, 'Is Giles The First?' wasn't. I presume they were afraid that if they gave the actors and crew scripts with the real ending, it would leak out and spoil the surprise before the episode aired...

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 18:36 (UTC)

I presume they were afraid that if they gave the actors and crew scripts with the real ending, it would leak out and spoil the surprise before the episode aired...

Which is of course perfectly true, though I don't think it was ever the actors.

I knew at the time - because I was thoroughly spoilered from SR on - that Spike ended up getting his soul back well before the end of the season. I don't think I could've carried on watching otherwise.

Posted by: Chani (frenchani)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 18:42 (UTC)
break

Mostly, though, I think it's more self-centred. The soulquest is the only way left for him to resolve the fundamental question of who he really is. He's horrified at the monster: so he will rediscover the man. Or die trying.

I wish I could find the essay I wrote years ago about Spike's soul. Must be somewhere...

I do think it's a matter of identity too and a matter of free will. And I agree that the AR was a ctalyst indeed. Suddenly Spike understood, because of what he almost did to Buffy, that he was not his own man, that Drusilla lured him into a trap in 1880. It's exaclty the opposite of what he believed in FFL and Crush (he thought that Drusilla gave him freedom then). He used to believe that he was free, he loved the idea that he was free. After the AR in SR, he realised that it had been an illusion. Being a soulless vampire he was ruled by his urges, he wasn't really in the driver seat, he was a slave to his demon (meaning desires, fears, hunger etc). It's paradoxical because Spike didn't vamp out during the AR scene, but I think it's more subtle that way.

The soul was the metaphor of that free will that had been stolen to him when Dru sired him.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:00 (UTC)

Excellent points about freedom - and thinking about it, it's a shame that we never saw a scene between souled Spike and Drusilla. I'd pay good money to watch that...

It's paradoxical because Spike didn't vamp out during the AR scene, but I think it's more subtle that way.
I think that's because he was driven by desperation, frustration, the need to re-connect with Buffy despite her (misguided, in his view) unwillingness. Human emotions, in other words, rather than simple vampiric greed, lust and cruelty. It wasn't the demon that tried to rape Buffy, it was the man.

But the twist is that the man that Spike used to be before Drusilla wouldn't have done that either. The demon hasn't just trapped him; it's deformed him, made him less than he was. Which is why he wantes to be restored into what he used to be...

Posted by: prophecygirrl (prophecygirrl)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:17 (UTC)

Posted by: prophecygirrl (prophecygirrl)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:33 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 19:44 (UTC)

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 21:00 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 21:42 (UTC)

Posted by: Chani (frenchani)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 22:02 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 22:38 (UTC)

Posted by: rowynnecrowley (rowynnecrowley)
Posted at: 10th December 2008 17:16 (UTC)

Posted by: Bogwitch (bogwitch)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 20:03 (UTC)

Popped over via elisi.

>>In that moment, he had his epiphany. He remembered the legend about the cave in Africa and the demon that could restore souls (or grant wishes, whatever...).

Lurky had to grant souls rather than just wishes, otherwise Spike would have been off like a shot to him long ago when he was desperate to get the chip out.

The whole of season six points to a soulquest - all those 'You don't have a soul!' moments are clunking great anvils that point towards it. Although I was heavily spoilt for much of the original airings, I never once fall for Joss' 'twist'.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 20:14 (UTC)

Good points, both of them. :) Thanks!

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 21:14 (UTC)
Spike - fighting for his soul by awmp

Lurky had to grant souls rather than just wishes, otherwise Spike would have been off like a shot to him long ago when he was desperate to get the chip out.
In 'Destiny' Spike says that he 'went through the demon trials', which seems to indicate something far more than soul-restoration. I think that they were another version of what Angel went through in 'The Trial' (might even have been the same place for all we know, just with a different setting?). Maybe something about granting 'new life'?

And if he'd really wanted the chip out he could have gone to W&H - if he hadn't heard of them before 'Crush', then after that he knew that they were capable of bringing a vampire back from the dead. A chip should pose no problem.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 22:08 (UTC)

"I'm Fred. I head up Wolfram & Hart's Science Department."
"Wolfram & Hart. Heard of that. Thought it was a law firm."
"It is, among other things."
"Also heard they represent the worst evil in the universe."


Seems to me Spike didn't think of W&H as the sort of organisation that could remove his chip. They might possibly have had a client who could,m but who knows what sort of price they'd demand? Plus, they're lawyers. Spike may be evil, but even demons have some standards.

As for Angel's trial, it was different in nature to Spike's. Angel had to prove he could undergo pain and suffering on another's behalf - it was a test of self-sacrifice. Spike's trial was all about combat, and proving his prowess as a fighter - supported by Lurky's comments about his audacity in coming to him even though he was no longer a legendary dark warrior.

My own personal explanation is that Lurky's demon trials were intended to forge champions to fight in the apocalypse, by stripping away any handicaps that were limiting their ability to reach their potential. Spike evidently argued that his lack of a soul was just such a handicap - Lurky was clearly upset and angry at him, but was bound by the rules of the game to give Spike a chance to fight for it...

Posted by: Bogwitch (bogwitch)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 22:08 (UTC)

Demon trials or not, there had to be something about them more specific than just 'wishes'. I think Spike was desperate enough to get the chip out at the beginning to try something as drastic as that. Maybe, as you say, the rules from them are somehow more specific to transformations of some sort.

It's been a very long time since I bothered to watch any early AtS, but weren't the trials in the The Trial more aligned to 'good'? Lurky seemed to be on the evil side (maybe neutral at a stretch).

I doubt Spike would ever have gone to W&H, even evil. He wouldn't have trusted the bargain he would inevitably have to make.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd June 2007 23:13 (UTC)

Posted by: petzipellepingo (petzipellepingo)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 21:22 (UTC)
SR bathroom scene by no_delusions

Lovely analysis. And yes, I agree that the AR moment was the lynch pin to Spike's quest for the return of his soul. It was, for him, so traumatizing that even a creature without a soul felt shame and remorse. He'd been so positive up to that point that he could be just as good as someone with a soul and then it all came crashing down.

And the notion that only Angel(us) is the proper souled vampire in the Jossverse while the rest of us have been blinded by JM's abs I find truly hilarious. But I also have no intention whatsoever of debating this as I've spend all damn day hanging around the house waiting for work to be done by people who cancelled at the last moment so I'm slinking off to eat some strawberries and sulk on my front porch.

Enjoy your debate everyone and thanks to stormwreath for always posting interesting meta and fictions. And btw, you are going to finish your First Slayer tale, right?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 1st June 2007 22:19 (UTC)

But I also have no intention whatsoever of debating this
I'm not sure anybody's debating that actually; one person has stated it as his opinion, a few others disagreed, and everybody politely agreed to disagree and got on with talking about other stuff. It all seemed very civilised to me...

And btw, you are going to finish your First Slayer tale, right?

Hee. Don't worry, it's not forgotten, my mind's just been elsewhere. But it's nice to know people are interested.

Although there is a problem. A big one. You see, Hiywan and her friends are just going through puberty, so they're probably about 13 years old. But in their clan, once you've undergone the rite of passage you're considered legally adult and able to marry - which is going to be a plot point in the coming chapters. So in light of the recent kerfuffle, I should probably say that I clearly and substantially object to underage sex, and in no way condone 13 year old girls getting married in any culture or society where the legal age of consent is higher than 13. The customs and laws of stone-age hunter-gatherer societies 10,000 years ago where the average life expectancy was probably 30 years old are not applicable to modern society. Void where prohibited by law.

Posted by: Spaced Out Looney (spacedoutlooney)
Posted at: 2nd June 2007 23:11 (UTC)

I'm firmly in this camp too. ::waves::

Let me just gratuitously link my own post on the subject. *ahem*.

Also, it looks like you're quoting from the shooting script, not the episodes themselves.

Posted by: fotada (fotada)
Posted at: 3rd June 2007 13:58 (UTC)

I'm here on a rec from elisi. Wonderfully well-thought out essay, and I agree with it all. I am always amazed that people still insist Spike was going to Africa to get his chip out. Joss loves to vagues things up (and mindfuck his audience a bit, frankly) but this is one issue I never felt confused about. This was another step in Spike's journey to manhood, just as Buffy having his chip removed afterwards was.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd June 2007 23:34 (UTC)

Thanks! Sadly I can't actually remember my reaction on first watching the big reveal, but I have a vague memory of being surprised, shocked, delighted, and urgently wanting to know what would happen in season 7...

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 31st August 2008 23:16 (UTC)
willow lessons

And yay for another really late comment (Hey, I'm new to LJ. I have an excuse). Again, haven't read the other comments cause they were all made over a year ago so there's not much point jumping into any of those discussions. I'll read them after I comment.

Honestly, I was confused after watching the end of season 6 and seeing all the controversy regarding this. It never even occurred to me that Spike wanted the chip out. I know that they were trying for a misdirect (And were a bit too successful at it, unfortunately), but I guess I just didn't buy Spike going all the way to Africa to get his chip out. Didn't compute.

I love your analysis, and I can't disagree with any of it. I think Spike, at that time, was going through such turmoil. He'd been chipped for years and had adapted to a "neutered" life. On top of that, he was consciously trying to be with Buffy in any way possible. He'd begun to define himself in terms of how she saw him which, by that point, wasn't very complimentary.

I think that, yes, Spike went to get a soul for himself. I think he also was still trying to find a way for Buffy to love him. In his mind, she'd loved a vampire before (Angel). The only difference between him and Angel was that Angel had a soul. Ergo, Spike getting a soul could win her over. Not the brightest of conclusions, but it's probably the best Spike could do in a soulless state.

So I think there's a lot that goes into his motivations there, some more noble than others (I think a vampire feeling remorse and seeking a way to better himself is very noble, personally). Fantastic post, really.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd September 2008 16:10 (UTC)
thechain-truth

Thanks! It's always nice when something I wrote generates more interest, even if it's a year later...

I agree that Spiuke's motives for wanting his soul back were complex and multi-stranded, and "impressing Buffy" and "being a man she could love" were part of it. "Getting Buffy to forgive him" probably even more important. But to be honest, I think the main reason was more personal to Spike, and more 'about him'.

It was a moment of Existential angst. Spike no longer recognised his place in the world, didn't know who he was, didn't know what meaning his life had. "It won't let me be a monster. And I can't be a man." But then he realised that he could be a man again - if he got his soul back.

"I tried to find it, of course. The spark. The missing... the piece that fit. That would make me fit."

Posted by: red_satin_doll (red_satin_doll)
Posted at: 16th September 2012 17:10 (UTC)

I've already commented upthread that I agree with this meta very much, but to this as well (pretty much all your comments in this thread.) One of the things that made the show interesting to me (watching it the first time this year) was the evolution of the show - from simple "subversion of horror genres" to something far more complex and character-based. I wouldn't have been interested in it if it had stayed at the level of S1 the entire time. The differences between Angel and Spike are a part of this; Angel in S1 was rather simple, and the whole soul/no-soul thing seemed fairly black and white; with Spike they had an opportunity to really explore the implications of their own universe, as they did with bringing Buffy back to life (twice) and exploring her depression, etc - even if they oftentimes flubbed the execution.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th September 2012 21:45 (UTC)

Posted by: red_satin_doll (red_satin_doll)
Posted at: 18th September 2012 20:57 (UTC)

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