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(Meta) My Season 7 Manifesto

28th January 2009 (19:25)
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I've been thinking about the subject of this post for a long time - whenever some argument springs up about 'Chosen' or the amulet or the First Evil or the morality of empowering all the Slayers. And finally, I decided to write down ten statements that declare What I Believe To Be True about 'Buffy' Season 7, and especially its final few episodes. Some of these are, I think, self-evident - although still surprisingly controversial in some circles. Some are more a matter of opinion, but my statements describe what I believe makes the most sense or is what the writers intended to say. There's probably more I could say or other questions I haven't addressed, but this essay was getting far too long anyway so I decided to limit myself to ten.

Here they are:

1. There is a good reason why the turok-han that Buffy fought in 'Bring On The Night' was much stronger than the legions of them that the Slayers fought in 'Chosen'.
2. The Slayers managed to defeat the army of turok-han themselves, which means that Buffy's plan worked. The fact that the amulet wiped them all out and closed the Hellmouth permanently was an unexpected but welcome bonus.
3. Buffy's plan made good tactical sense. Her victory wasn't solely down to luck.
4. The First's defeat was primarily moral, not military.
5. The fact that the amulet was worn by a man is not a betrayal of feminist principles.
6. The Slayer empowerment spell affected only those women who were ready and able to accept the power.
7. Potentials were already different before they became Slayers.
8. Becoming a Slayer was a good thing for those people it happened to.
9. A Slayer is not a demon.
10. The Slayer spell was empowerment and liberation, not a violation.
 



1. There is a good reason why the turok-han Buffy fought in 'Bring On The Night' was much stronger than the legions of them that the Slayers fought in 'Chosen'.

And that's because the one The First chose as Its champion was the meanest, toughest, most dangerous of them all. It was as much stronger than normal turok-han as Spike or Angel are tougher than normal vampires. It's also possible that The First empowered it with extra strength in the same way that It did to Caleb.


2. The Slayers managed to defeat the army of turok-han themselves, which means that Buffy's plan worked. The fact that the amulet wiped them all out and closed the Hellmouth permanently was an unexpected but welcome bonus.

I probably need to clarify what I mean by "defeated the army". It doesn't mean killing every last one of them: it means slaying a lot of them, forcing the rest to flee and hide, and delaying The First's invasion plans for a long, long time. That would have been a great victory, but it wouldn't have meant the end of the war. To use a historical analogy: Japan had already been defeated militarily by 6 August 1945; her armies were broken and no longer a threat to anyone, but they were still fighting viciously in scattered pockets all over the Far East. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ensured a final, conclusive and so-far permanent end to Japanese militarism. The amulet did much the same to Sunnydale's Hellmouth.

How do I know the Slayers had already won? Mostly because of two specific lines of dialogue, and my interpretation of the backing music and the way the fight scene was shot. Those lines are first, when an unseen Slayer shouts "They're leaving! They're retreating!" and secondly, of course, when Spike says "You beat them back, it's for me to do the clean-up." Now, that first line has actually been quite controversial in the past, because it doesn't appear in the shooting script and therefore a few people have refused to admit it exists, but it's definitely there. The second is surely clear enough. Would Spike really be talking like that if the Slayers were still locked in a desperate life and death struggle? I suppose, if you were determined to minimise the Slayers' efforts, you could argue that Spike was being extremely modest in downplaying his role in the victory, not to mention openly lying to Buffy about her own contribution to it. Because that would be totally in character for him, yeah?

As for the cinematography and music: once Buffy has defied The First to Its (/her own) face, the music changes pace and becomes triumphant, we see Slayers we'd previously thought done for - Buffy herself and Faith  - get up again and go back into battle, and we watch a dramatic CGI shot of Buffy killing several turok-han with a single blow, Vi killing three in the space of about three seconds, and so on. All these things indicate that the tide of battle has turned and victory is at hand. All that remained was, as Spike put it, "the clean-up".

Some people argue that however well the Slayers were doing up there on the cliff face, there were still plenty more turok-han down below and therefore it was premature to say the battle was won. That's fair enough as an abstract point, though there are again plenty of historical examples of an army being routed and thoroughly defeated without the actual death rate being all that high. The Battle of Plassey in 1757 is a classic example, where a British East India Company army of just 3,000 men defeated a Bengali army of 52,000 men. The Bengalis only lost about 500 casualties (the British lost 65), but their army's morale was shattered and the defeat so total that it led to 200 years of British domination of their country. Given the clear authorial intent shown in the dialogue and music and filming of 'Chosen', I think it's safe to say that the turok-han weren't about to make a miraculous last-minute rally and pull victory from the jaws of defeat.


3. Buffy's plan made good tactical sense. Her victory wasn't solely down to luck.

I'll admit that this assertion relies on several assumptions, not least of which is that the writing and direction of the episode do nothing to imply that her plan was a bad one. I should also point out that unlike most of fandom, I also argue that her plan in 'Dirty Girls' wasn't actually bad so much as unlucky. However, let's break it down.

Why did she open the Hellmouth herself? Wasn't that reckless?
Not really; as she says herself, waiting until The First is ready to attack would be the mistake. We've seen that It can recruit new Bringers, and presumably It can also create new turok-han; so the longer Buffy waits, the larger the enemy army will get. Meanwhile, The First can pick away at the Potentials, demoralising them and perhaps killing a few of them off here and there... so waiting conversely reduces Buffy's strength. Finally, allowing It to pick the moment to attack cedes the initiative and makes Buffy's forces vulnerable to a nasty surprise at the worst possible moment.

How is charging into the Hellmouth different to charging into the vineyard?
Because this time, Buffy knew what to expect. She'd received the vision from the Shadowmen and knew exactly what was waiting for her in the Hellmouth. Tough as they are, turok-han are still vampires... and by 'Chosen' Buffy knows she can defeat them (remember the three she fights in 'End Of Days'). She has the Scythe, and she has Willow's Slayer spell, and she even has that amulet thingie.

Why didn't they wait until Willow's spell took effect before going down into the Hellmouth?
It's a good question, with three possible answers. One is "because they're dumb", which seems unsatisfying and also contradicts the evidence of the show, which is that despite her occasional ditzy moment Buffy is certainly not stupid. The second is because they believed that as soon as The First realised what Willow was trying to do, It would tell the turok-han and Bringers to attack anyway - so why wait? The third, which I prefer, is that Willow could only cast her spell after the Seal had been opened and the magical Hellmouthy energies released. It's surely not a coincidence that she has to cast it in the Principal's office, directly over the Seal, is it?

Couldn't they have waited outside the Hellmouth and killed the turok-han as they came charging up?
It's possible: in all honesty, this is probably one of the things that was done for dramatic effect. A climactic battle scene in a small, dark and crowded room with vampires climbing a staircase one by one wouldn't be very exciting as the climax to seven years of the show, would it? But there's also the fact that by entering the Hellmouth, Buffy's companions would have room to spread out and fight properly; all cramped together in a dark space might have lead to some nasty accidents.

Why didn't they keep quiet and hide inside the Hellmouth until the spell took effect?
Partly, I think, because it's simply not in character for Buffy and her friends to sneak around as if they were afraid of the monsters, rather than vice-versa. Partly it may be because The First probably knew they were there anyway as soon as the Seal was opened.

Why didn't they send Spike in alone with the amulet?
Because they weren't exactly sure what it would do; because they didn't know how long it would take to activate, and he might need Slayers to protect him until it did; and because Spike would have told them to sod off if they'd suggested it. Not to mention - as I discuss below - that the amulet's activation might actually have been caused by Buffy's defeat of The First.

How did she think 30 Slayers could defeat an army of vampires?
She says it herself. She'd been slaying vampires for years and frankly, they're not that scary... at least, not to a Slayer. Incidentally, there's been a long-running debate about exactly how many turok-han they had to face down in the Hellmouth, with many people loosely throwing about numbers like "thousands". In fact, when I once enlarged a screencap of the "big scary vampire army" scene and counted heads, there were only about 300 or so visible. Sure, there might be hundreds more off-camera, but we're still talking the very low thousands at most. And again with the historical examples: Rorke's Drift 1879, 4,000 or more Zulus versus 139 British. Buffy and Faith were no more outnumbered than Chard and Bromhead even if you don't account for the fact that a pissed-off Slayer is a more dangerous opponent than a Welshman with a single-shot rifle.

Purely random thought: is there Chard/Bromhead slash? Not that I'd particularly want to read it myself, but on the theory that "any kink exists somewhere on the Internet" I'm curious...


4. The First's defeat was primarily moral, not military.

On the face of it, The First's plan was to invade the world with an army of vampires. According to what it tells Caleb, once its own worshippers outnumbered the humans It would be able to take corporeal form. This military threat was in turn defeated by military means - Buffy's Slayers.

However, I've always believed that The First's true agenda was to corrupt and destroy humanity from the inside, one by one. What would an immortal spirit of pure Evil really care about physical bodies or conquest? In this light, I believe The First takes more pleasure in individual moments of degradation and betrayal than in any amount of blood and slaughter... and its objective in Season 7 was to corrupt that shining symbol of humanity's resistance against evil, the Slayer. What finally defeated it was the moment where Buffy, stabbed through the abdomen and apparently broken, refused to give way to despair. At that moment, The First vanishes, the dramatic triumphant music starts and the turok-han are driven back. That, I would say, is the decisive moment.

Of course, the fact that Joss Whedon tends to think in terms of dramatic character developments rather than realistic military strategies supports my contention that this was the author's intention. :-) It was Buffy's inner strength and determination that drove away The First, just as it was Spike's courage and desire to do what was right that destroyed the Hellmouth.

I'll also mention two theories which make a lot of sense even if they aren't specifically proven on screen. One is that Spike's amulet activated almost the very moment after Buffy defied the First and caused it to retreat, but not before. That might be a coincidence... but it might also be because that defiance and the First's retreat was necessary for it to activate. Maybe it drew its power from the triumphant release of energy from the surrounding people once they knew they were winning, or perhaps The First's presence was preventing it from activating.

The second theory is that The First's willpower was motivating its army, filling them with strength and ferocity in a watered-down but more widespread version of what It did to Caleb. Once It realised there was no chance of breaking Buffy's spirit, and that killing her would no longer end the Slayer line, It lost interest and left. The turok-han were now merely vampires, and easily defeated. I got this idea, as you might guess, from Tolkien (and also Timothy Zahn).


5. The fact that the amulet was worn by a man is not a betrayal of feminist principles

Yes, I've seen this argument advanced in all seriousness; and it's thoroughly silly. First, as I've pointed out above, the amulet wasn't the sine qua non of the victory anyway. Secondly, Spike was carrying the amulet at Buffy's request and as part of a plan she devised; it doesn't detract from his heroism and self-sacrifice to say that she deserves the overall credit for the victory. And since I'm not a radical separatist - which would be quite an awkward position for me to take given my circumstances - I don't believe that feminism requires men to be superseded and sidelined. The fact that a man (Spike) can willingly accept a woman's leadership and fight beside her is surely a powerful feminist statement?


6. The Slayer empowerment spell affected only those women who were ready and able to accept the power

Firstly, I don't believe that the spell turned young children into Slayers, and I doubt that anyone older than their early twenties was Called. We've only got negative evidence for this, in that the youngest Slayer we saw was a week or two short of her 12th birthday (going by the actress's actual age), and the oldest - Dana - was apparently 25 or so. There's also evidence from 'Harmonic Divergence' where a new Slayer, in the post-Chosen world, is Called on the day of her 16th birthday.

Secondly, a lot of the girls we saw becoming Slayers did so at some moment of danger to themselves or others. This might be dramatic or otherwise - Soledad was about to be beaten up by a girl gang, the nameless Slayer of 'The Chain' was about to be run over by a truck, even Baseball Girl looked like she was about to be hurt or humiliated - but it looks like the mysterious Powers that decide who will become a Slayer do take such things into consideration. These girls might not necessarily have wanted to become Slayers, but it seems like they needed to.

You might argue that Dana (from 'Damage') is a poor candidate for becoming a Slayer. However, after being victimised and haunted all her life, being Chosen finally allowed her to feel strong and to conquer her demons. It was nothing but a good thing for her. Maybe less good for those around her.


7. Potentials were already different before they became Slayers

This is implied a few times by things Buffy and others say during the season: that the Potentials are already more capable, stronger and faster than normal people even if they're not superpowered. Part of this, of course, may be simply the result of their intensive training...  in fact, in many genres someone like Kennedy who's been intensively trained in weapons and martial arts since she was eight years old by a secret and reclusive order of warlocks and assassins would be considered a superhero anyway! She's certainly received just as good training as the average fictional ninja. However, it's also implied that even people like Amanda who had a normal upbringing are simply better at this.

What this means is that becoming a Slayer is not imposing something from outside; it's awakening a potential that already existed.

On a side note: it was never discussed anywhere in the show where Potentials come from in the first place. It doesn't seem to be hereditary, at least in the narrow sense that if Buffy's a Slayer then Dawn and Joyce must therefore also be Potentials. It's possible that there is a genetic element to it, but if so it's a gene that's widely distributed and only rarely expresses itself... and from an evolutionary perspective, very few Slayers live long enough to reproduce. Alternatively, maybe there's some entity (the Slayer Spirit, the Powers That Be, the Guardians?) actively creating Potentials. I've suggested elsewhere that the Guardians once knew a magical ritual to create new Potentials, and garbled and misunderstood versions of this ritual - that occasionally work, but usually don't - are preserved in popular culture around the world as "blessings for new babies" or similar. Or maybe it's a mixture of 'all of the above'.

One criticism of the "Potentials are different to normal people" approach is that it lays the show open to charges that it's advocating oligarchy, the triumph of the Overman and the creation of a master race to rule over the rest of humanity. (No, I'm not exaggerating the criticisms that have been levelled at Joss over the years.) 'Chosen' didn't present it like that, of course; the message of the big montage scene was that Everywoman was becoming a Slayer, that every girl who can stand up, will stand up. Unless she's already a witch, an ex-demon or a ball of green glowing energy, of course. As we found out in 'Angel' Season 5 and 'Buffy' Season 8 it didn't work like that: only about 2,000 women were actually Called rather than all three billion of them. (Has anyone ever written an AU post-Chosen fic in which it did happen that way, incidentally?) Even so, the emotional message of 'Chosen' was one of general empowerment.

(And, of course, the 'dangers of creating a master race' theme is exactly what Joss chose to explore in Season 8, so it's not like he was blind to the potential problem.)


8. Becoming a Slayer was a good thing for those people it happened to

This is surprisingly controversial, considering that Buffy herself was never in any doubt that having superpowers was a wonderful thing. What she hated was the responsibility that came from being One Girl In All The World... the fact that everybody relied on her alone, she had nobody to turn to who could understand what it was like, that if she didn't fight evil herself nobody would and the resulting deaths would be on her conscience. The fact that it was never-ending, with no hope of relief short of her death. The fact that being the one and only Slayer made her the target for every demon and vampire and warlock with a grudge or something to prove.

Empowering thousands of Slayers removed (most of) those downsides of being a Slayer, leaving the upsides.

(Of course, in real life things are never quite that simple, which is why Season 8 is exploring some of the consequences of Buffy's action. But that doesn't take away from the basic message that things became better for all concerned. Quantity has a quality all its own, as Josef Stalin once said.)

There's one specific point to address, which numerous people have made the subject of fics over the years; that a girl suddenly becoming a Slayer might accidentally use her unaccustomed strength to hurt or even kill someone else... and by extension, Buffy and Willow would be responsible for that. While a clever idea, I've never thought it worked that way: all the girls being empowered seemed to me to know exactly what had happened to them, and be in full control... whether it's Baseball Girl's cheeky smile or the look of determination in Abused Trailer Girl's face. 'The Chain' made that explicit, with the emphasis on how the new Slayer was hit by all the accumulated knowledge and memories and wisdom of the entire preceding Slayer line all at once. Of course, it doesn't mean that a newly Called woman will use her powers for good, but it seems clear to me that she'd use them with understanding. And I've already said I don't believe in toddler Slayers. :-)

(Linked to this, we need to note that Buffy never wandered about smashing and destroying things accidentally because she didn't know her own strength, the way fyarl!Giles did in 'A New Man'. Even though she was often shown to be quite clumsy when it came to non-Slaying activities.)


9. A Slayer is not a demon

We're told that the Slayer power is "demonic in origin". Your origin might be an important part of you, but it doesn't define you. (Or "You're not the source of me", as Buffy would say.) Eating sushi doesn't turn you into a fish, and being infused by power drawn from the heart of a demon doesn't automatically make you a demon yourself. I believe that Buffy, Faith and the other Slayers are no less human than, say, Willow or Giles or Ethan.

I have toyed with the idea that the power behind the Slayer line is not merely magical energy but a conscious and self-willed entity, the Slayer Spirit, which plays a part in deciding who will be Chosen. Even in this case, while it may technically be a demon I think that after tens of thousands of years of being linked so closely to so many human girls, it would have become a very human kind of demon in its outlook and attitudes...


10. The Slayer spell was empowerment and liberation, not a violation

This is a complex and fraught area of discussion, but to me it boils down to a very simple proposition: giving somebody more power, as long as they have the information to use it wisely, is never a bad thing for them. As I discussed in my essay on Willow and the will to power; without it, we are helpless to affect the world around us. We merely the slaves of events. Gaining power means liberation.

Of course, giving power to people who've never enjoyed it before doesn't always lead to good results. That's kind of the point. We can try to control our children's lives in their best interests, but doing the same thing to adults only infantilises them... liberty includes the freedom to make mistakes. Both Adolf Hitler and Margaret Thatcher benefited more from women's votes than from men's, but that doesn't mean that giving the vote to women was a mistake. Likewise, not every new Slayer might use her powers wisely, but the fact of having them gives her more choices and more options about what to do with her life.

The biggest problem with my view of the Slayer empowerment spell, of course, is the so-called 'rape metaphor'. In 'Get It Done', the creation of the First Slayer was shown as a violent act carried out without her consent, and Buffy herself raises the analogy of sexual violation. How does this differ, critics ask, from what Buffy and Willow did in 'Chosen'?

The first approach to answering this is to point out that the practical effects were very different. The First Slayer was being removed from her normal life, turned into a tool in the hands of the Shadowmen - a weapon - like all Slayers after her until Buffy. The women in 'Chosen' were being given something else: additional power and additional choice, with no obligation at all to give up their normal lives unless they wanted to. I'm not saying that this obviates the consent issue, but I'm sure we all agree that if the choice is cake or death, being forced to eat cake is a minor inconvenience compared to the alternative.

It's sometimes suggested that Buffy and Willow honestly believed that every surviving Potential had already arrived in Sunnydale, and so Buffy's "Here's the part where you make a choice..." speech was, in her mind, genuinely giving everybody who would be affected by the spell the chance to vote on it. All those thousands of Potentials in the rest of the world came as a complete surprise. While perhaps not satisfying from an emotional perspective, this does at least absolve Buffy of any formal guilt for imposing superpowers on women without their consent... she had no mens rea for the action and used due diligence to prevent it.

I used to believe also that there may have been an element of Willow's spell that caused it to only affect those girls who were willing to become Slayers, at least subconsciously. 'The Chain' disproved that theory, although it still leaves open the possibility (as mentioned before) of it only affecting those women who needed to become Slayers.

However, my main argument against this charge is to say that really, the question of consent is the wrong question to be asking. Becoming a Slayer wasn't something imposed on these women from outside... it was already there inside them in potential, and it was only "the rules made up by a bunch of men thousands of years ago" that prevented them from all having that power. It was the Shadowmen who violated their consent, and all Buffy and Willow did was ensure that these women could enjoy the benefits of that long-ago action as well as having to suffer its downsides. They were breaking the chains, not adding new ones.

On a metaphorical level, just as the story of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' was that of Buffy growing up and becoming an adult woman with full acceptance of her responsibilities, so Slayerhood is a metaphor for adult agency. You don't choose to become an adult, you don't "consent" to puberty or maturity. It happens regardless of your wishes, but you do get to choose how you respond to the changes in your body and your life.

So what was the point of the heavy rape metaphor in 'Get It Done'? I think it's because the show was talking about power. On one level, the First Slayer was being empowered, and that's a good thing. However, the Shadowmen were weighting her down with so many chains, both literal and symbolic, that her power was effectively useless to her. She was a prisoner, taken away from her previous life and taught that she had "No friends, just the kill". If she dared show independence, those long sticks wielded by men were always there to beat obedience into her. (Nope, absolutely no phallic symbolism or patriarchy metaphors going on here, no sir...) Without knowledge of the world around her and wholly dependent on the Shadowmen, she became nothing but a weapon in their hands. It's not accidental but rather highly symbolic that Buffy's response to the Shadowmen's offer of more power was to demand knowledge instead - because to change the world around you effectively you need both.

What she and Willow gave the other Slayers was power without the strings attached, and with the ability to gain as much knowledge as they could. That's something very different to what previous generations of Slayers had to face.

"Even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So, what, are we helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are going to come, can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are."

 

 



ETA: I wanted to make a couple of comments based on the discussion below, for the benefit of anyone coming to this post now:

1. In saying that Buffy was already winning the battle against the turok-han before the amulet activated, I'm trying to assert her independent role in the overall victory, not doing down anybody else's contribution. Buffy defeated the vampire army. Spike closed the Hellmouth forever. Everyone else also did their part.

2. One suggestion that came out of the discussion was that Buffy already knew in advance exactly what the amulet would do (thanks to Giles being able to translate its operating instructions far better than Angel managed, presumably). This wasn't revealed to us, the audience, to preserve suspense. While I'm not 100% convinced of this yet, it would change several of my assumptions in the ten points above
.

Comments

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Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 21:01 (UTC)

Great meta as always!

It's also possible that The First empowered it with extra strength in the same way that It did to Caleb.

That was always my favourite explanation, yeah. Of course, there are other theories.

It's surely not a coincidence that she has to cast it in the Principal's office, directly over the Seal, is it?

Good point. Plus, it goes nicely along with another favourite fanwank of mine - that Willow's "natural" magical ability isn't unrelated to her having spent most of her high school years (even pre-Buffy) in the library, directly above the hellmouth.

Couldn't they have waited outside the Hellmouth and killed the turok-han as they came charging up?

Couldn't the Spartans have waited on the plains and fought the Persians after they passed Thermopylae?

Maybe it drew its power from the triumphant release of energy from the surrounding people once they knew they were winning, or perhaps The First's presence was preventing it from activating.

Or maybe, since it seems to have been planted by Lindsey with the intention that Angel was to wear it, the idea is simply: if Angel wins, he'll barely have time to see himself triumph before he fries in front of his friends. And then come back owing Lindsey one. Or something along those lines.

The fact that a man (Spike) can willingly accept a woman's leadership and fight beside her is surely a powerful feminist statement?

On the other hand, he does refer to himself as looking like Liz Taylor... ;-)

You might argue that Dana (from 'Damage') is a poor candidate for becoming a Slayer.

Since there's no evidence of her being better off in any way at the end of "Damage" (and not even a throwaway mention of her in either comic) I'd have to say "yeah, kinda." She's as badly off as before, difference being that a) a bunch of people are dead, and b) if she does maintain that slight lucidity she reaches at the end, she'll know what she did. There's a reason she's very clearly set up as a mirror of Spike and Angel. Even if she had had "the information to use it wisely", which she didn't, she didn't seem to have the capacity to assimilate it.

How does this differ, critics ask, from what Buffy and Willow did in 'Chosen'?

Agreed; I always thought the key phrase in that episode that everyone seems to miss was "they chained her to the Earth." The Slayer's curse isn't the power; it's the lack of free will, information and wisdom needed to use that power.

I'm sure we all agree that if the choice is cake or death, being forced to eat cake is a minor inconvenience compared to the alternative.

But... the cake is a lie!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 21:50 (UTC)
firstslayer-buffyforums

Glad we're in general agreement. :-)

Nice theory regarding Willow, although wouldn't that make Giles even more magically powerful than her? He spends all day there, after all...

I must have interpreted Dana differently to you then, because I saw her defiant comment to Spike "Not weak anymore. Strong. Slayer." as an affirmation and reclamation of her life after being a victim for so many years. I'll add that she has the information, it's just that she's too mentally ill to be able to distinguish between memory and reality and therefore use the iformation. But if becoming a Slayer has helped her to regain some lucidity, perhaps she'll also regain her sanity eventually as well.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 22:09 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 22:18 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 22:26 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 22:57 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:35 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 23:58 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 30th January 2009 10:49 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 31st January 2009 11:47 (UTC)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 21:06 (UTC)

Ooh - that was interesting. Especially since I'm re-watching S7 right now. I think you brought up a lot of good points that I mostly agree with - except for the 'only Potentials who are ready to be Slayers were made Slayers' thing. After all, there's Genevieve of No Future for You - and while it's possible to argue that Dana needed to be a Slayer, I don't think that can be true for Genevieve. Besides, if only girls ready to be Slayers became Slayers, why would there be any of the 'abuse of power' drama of S8?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 21:12 (UTC)

Well, it's kind of debatable, I agree...

But we don't know whether Gigi would have been that bad a Slayer if it wasn't for Roden corrupting her. Faith seemed to find her a decent enough person under the layers of arrogance and mistaken ideas. And just because the Mystic Powers/Slayer Spirit/whatever considers a girl to be "ready to become a Slayer" doesn't mean that other people around her would agree...

Thanks!

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 21:33 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 21:21 (UTC)

Ooh, very interesting.

...I think I mostly agree.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 22:12 (UTC)

Complete agreement is mandatory. Prepare to be assimilated.
:-)

Thanks!

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 21:25 (UTC)
willow fight me

1. No issue. It's an action movie staple (Alien vs Aliens)

2. Whoo boy. Don't agree. Buffy got lucky.

My viewing of the finale shows a sharp disconnect between what I'm seeing in the battle and what the characters (And, thus, the writers) are saying about it. I wonder if they're watching the same thing. Spike's line about the enemy being beaten back is empty when...the enemy isn't beaten back.

The amulet saved the battle.

3. And Buffy's plan was dumb. Sorry, but the writer's wrote themselves into a corner and stretched things to get themselves out of it.

She's taking a group of barely trained girls against a horde of uber-vamps, empowering them mid-way through, and hoping to...what? "Beat them back"? "Kill them all"? Oh, yeah, and she has Spike wear a necklace with an ambiguous purpose. It's a suicide mission.

Easiest solution for the writers for this: Have Buffy know what the amulet will do before the battle. That way, her plan is to have the Slayerettes keep the uber-vamps occupied while Spike's amulet does its thing.

Instead, she has a half-ass plan with an amateur army and a vague, nearly impossible goal with a long-shot wild card thrown in there. This frustrates me because it is such an easy fix for the writers to make her plan actually work.

4-10. No real issues (Though I'd nitpick on whether a Slayer's a demon or not, I don't think anything conclusively proven in the show either which way).

Edited cause typos irk me

Edited at 2009-01-28 21:39 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 22:11 (UTC)
cameron-bigger

If the characters and the writers are all saying one thing about the scene, but you're seeing something else, are you going to believe your eyes or your ears? Should we take into account authorial intention, or is the author dead?

Or more to the point, are you going to agree with me that 'Chosen' could have benefited from an extra hour of broadcast and another couple of months of writing and filming time? :-) (Just listen to Joss's DVD commentary on it... not only is he constantly talking about how rushed they were, he sounds utterly exhausted.) I'd be the first to agree that the execution of S7 was flawed... that what we saw on screen didn't always reflect the ideas that the writers apparently wanted to get across.

In this case, there really is a short scene after Buffy's "Get out of my face!" and before the amulet triggers when the Slayers are conclusively winning the battle. Ubervamps are dying like flies, we get little clips of Buffy, Faith, Rona, Vi and Kennedy all laying about them and slaughtering them by the dozen (well, a couple or so each; they're really short clips). The trouble is, the scene is too short to make much of an impact compared to what came before, and it's sandwiched between the two big emotional pay-off scenes. More time might have let them make it longer and more decisive, and perhaps include a reaction shot of turok-han fleeing in panic, just to remove all doubt. But then again, that would have removed the dramatic impact of Spike's role in things, so it's a catch 22.

Regarding 3: the plan wasn't dumb, because it worked. But if you don't believe Buffy and the Slayers had already won before the amulet triggered, then you won't accept this. :-)

How much training do real life soldiers get before being sent into battle? Three months? Kennedy had had at least 11 years, and most of the other Potentials probably almost as much. Sure, they were inexperienced, but that's not the same as being untrained.

Dramatically, it wouldn't work at all for Buffy to rely on the amulet. That was the culmination of Spike's story, and important for that reason, but the most important thing for the show as a whole was that it ended with Buffy and a group of her friends and allies fighting side-by-side against evil. Slayers against Vampires. It's right there in the name of the show. :-)


4-10. No real issues (Though I'd nitpick on whether a Slayer's a demon or not

Slayers being human is more of a point of principle for me than something with evidence to back it up :-) - although I will point out that Spike's chip worked on pre-resurrection Buffy, which is generally taken as proof of human status.

Glad you don't disagree on the whole empowerment question. Discussing that gets exhausting... ;-)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 23:04 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 23:21 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 23:37 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:30 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:09 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:25 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:40 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:53 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 01:40 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 02:02 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 02:06 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 02:12 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 02:20 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 02:26 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 02:46 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 11:30 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:16 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:52 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 07:08 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 11:49 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:02 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:30 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:48 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:07 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:11 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:14 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:31 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:36 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 16:07 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:06 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:36 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:49 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 18:16 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:05 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:41 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:55 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:10 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:18 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:23 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:45 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:51 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 18:51 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 18:54 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:06 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:08 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:13 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:48 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:57 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 18:21 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 18:24 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:39 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:23 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:28 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 16:09 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 16:21 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:00 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:43 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:39 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:47 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 01:44 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 01:59 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 02:25 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 02:02 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 02:29 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 12:57 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 21:54 (UTC)

I agree with some of your points but not the following.

1) is just conjecture that's nowhere verified in canon. Sorry. I don't buy it. The uber vamps were as strong, or not, as the plot needed them to be.

2) No, sorry. Buffy just got lucky that the amulet did what it did. And Spike's modesty, or lack of it, doesn't factor in here because he was talking to Buffy. Basically, without the amulet, they would all have been vamp food.

3)Buffy's plan is dumb. And if there were really only 30 Slayers (I didn't count them) against 1000s of uber vamps then your 2) applies even less.

4)Yeah, agree.

5) Agree, but only because Spike regarded Buffy as his 'general,' so it was still her orders, and his decision to follow them, that won the day.

6)I don't see how you work that out. How can you possibly say that so definitely?

7) Agree

8)Again, you can't know, because we didn't see all of them and don't know what their experiences were.

9)Agree. However, they're not entirely human either, and their power is demonic in origin.

10)Again, I don't agree because the element of choice was absent. While I think 'violation' is too strong a word to use, I think the freedom to choose one's own destiny is very important, and none of these girls was given that.

Edited at 2009-01-28 21:56 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 22:31 (UTC)

Very interesting meta. I think you offer plausible ways to read things, but I think the alternatives are still viable (vis. whether the battle was really over when the amulet lit up and so on).

I agree with you that the metaphor of the slayer spell was supposed to be about women tapping into potential or what not. But, sorry, Joss can't help the other metaphors that are there, and these are a bit darker. In case you hadn't noticed, Buffy is exactly right about one thing -- women who are very strong or who are very competitive with men on turf that is traditionally dominated by men have a much harder time establishing relationships than do other women. Clearly many women manage it. But successful women are more likely to be unmarried than are successful men. And a LOT of women deliberately dumb down or otherwise avoid being seen as strong and powerful precisely because they want to continue to be attractive to a wider range of men than they would attract if they let it all hang out. Lots of girls I knew were really smart or competent or whatever. They chose not to develop those talents. And they had good reason to choose to not develop those talents. On that level, the metaphor of the empowerment spell DOES involve a violation of women's freedom of choice. The slayer called in The Choice is seen as a freak. The slayers dancing at Dawn's party are having a good time. But there's not a guy there. Unless they are all going to be lesbian, a lot of them are going to end up unattached as a result of being slayers. Sure, we want to get to a world where women don't have to trade their own competence against the ability to attract men. We might even be making progress. But Buffy herself has been plagued by the problem all along her journey. So it's not off the table when we are asked to think whether other women would want to suddenly BE much stronger than the men around them.

And also, I would still feel objectified even if someone zapped me with a development of potential that I did want. There's just something about having something done to me without my consent that is ooky. And also something about being manipulated at a fairly personal level to be an instrument of someone else's cause. Agree that this concern is less if Buffy herself didn't know that others would be involved. But I don't see how that was established.

I do agree, however, that it was right for Buffy to do the spell. I just see it as a necessary evil, and not as something to be unambiguously celebrated on its own merit.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 22:53 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 23:55 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:24 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:48 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 23:41 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 23:58 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 09:25 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:59 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 22:34 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 08:20 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 11:20 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 12:00 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 12:04 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:40 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:09 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:14 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:17 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:01 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:25 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:41 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:48 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 16:05 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:13 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:50 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 11:59 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 12:33 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:00 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:34 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:03 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:28 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:26 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:19 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 22:07 (UTC)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:41 (UTC)
career woman slayer

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:10 (UTC)
Re: career woman slayer

Posted by: Episkopos Rev. Alixtii O'Krul V, TRL (alixtii)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 20:30 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 23:08 (UTC)

1. Personally I like the idea of turok–han strength levels being age related. The first one had been buried down there since forever but most of the army could have been practically newly hatched (Every day our numbers swell as Not!Caleb put it).

2. Completely agree. I don’t remember hearing “ They’re leaving” but the turning of the tide of battle was absolutely crystal clear both visually and in the music. They’d just shown us what Slayers losing looked like in the sequence in which Buffy was down, Amanda was killed, Faith was smothered and Robin stabbed. What happed after she recovered was the complete opposite. My own geekish numerology contribution would be to compare the ratio of ubervamp attrition with that of the Slayers – I saw at least 20 Turok-han killed for at most two slayer deaths. At that rate 30 Slayers is more than enough to tackle a mere 300 ubies.

3. Preach it!

4. Testify!

5. Also Spike was not the only person capable of wearing the amulet or willing to do so. Faith or any of the newly called Slayers could have ”stood there and waited for the fire to come” in his place.

6. I agree as long as you stick to “ready and able to accept the power.” Gigi and Simone and Dana are examples of Slayers who for various reasons don’t seem able to accept the responsibility but I think they would all have said yes to the choice Buffy offered to be strong.

7. The potentials already had the dreams according to Welsey. I’ve always liked the way that recalls the suppression of women’s dreams of being anything other than what they’re supposed to be in strictly patriarchal systems.

8. Yes.

9. Again. I can never quite parse the Twilight binary of slayers vs humans. Slayers are human too.

10. To me the Get it Done scenario read like a mythic version of Buffy’s reaction to her own initial calling. Including her later acceptance of it as a necessary evil. A less unsettling origin story would have felt dishonest.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:53 (UTC)

"They're leaving!" is actually before Anya's death; some of the "retreating" turok-han run away up the stairs to the surface rather than back down the cliff. Luckily Buffy had planned for that too. :-)

Regarding 6 - the whole point of empowering people is that you give them the ability to make decisions you don't agree with...

7 - When does Wesley mention that? I'd assumed that it was only in the comics.

10 - it's notable that the First Slayer herself seems to accept her calling whole-heartedly, once we meet her in 'Restless'. I've always wondered (in a creepy sort of way) exactly how the Shadowmen achieved that...

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:13 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 23:16 (UTC)

I've exceeded my character limit on this one, lol.

There is a good reason why the turok-han Buffy fought in 'Bring On The Night' was much stronger than the legions of them that the Slayers fought in 'Chosen'.

Yep, and that reason is "because Joss changed his mind." While I think you've drawn some very interesting conclusions from authorial intent in these 10 points, this one just smacks of fanwanking. Joss has basically said, "Yeah, I just threw out continuity because it worked better for the story." (Which is something that really frustrates me about Joss, but that's a rant for another day.) You're certainly free to make up your own textual explanation, but in this case, it's not "what the writers intended to say."

Spike says "You beat them back, it's for me to do the clean-up."

Eh, that's pretty ambiguous to me. It could just as easily mean, "You held them off long enough for me to do my part." Maybe they meant for the Slayers to be the clear victors before the amulet kicked in, but from what we're actually shown, it doesn't look like it to me, so I'm skeptical that they really could've declared victory and walked away without Spike's part.

I think you make some pretty good points with #3, particularly opening the seal being necessary for Willow's spell - at least, I'd like to believe that they did things that way because they had to, and not because they were stupid.

Why didn't they keep quiet and hide inside the Hellmouth until the spell took effect?

It seems like they kind of tried at first, since Buffy says, "As long as Willow can work the spell before they see us"? Of course, they didn't quite get the "quiet" part of that, so it's really their own fault the turok-han attacked when they did.

I don't really have any disagreements with #4 or #5, although I think #4 would've been stronger if, as mentioned previously, we'd actually seen more of the victory instead of relying on the musical cues. :)

The Slayer empowerment spell affected only those women who were ready and able to accept the power

I know you've addressed this in other comments, but considering the examples of misuse of power and/or ill effects (like Dana), I find it hard to believe that the spell specifically chose those girls when they clearly weren't ready. I think it activated everyone (possibly within a certain age range) whether they were ready or not. Who knows how they get called now - Jane Espenson seems to have confused the matter more than she clarified it, IMO.

it was never discussed anywhere in the show where Potentials come from in the first place.

I assumed it was the same magic that called the Slayer. Into every generation, a large number of girls are born with the potential to be a Slayer, and if they're (un)lucky, they get chosen. It's basically a magical winnowing process.

'The Chain' made that explicit, with the emphasis on how the new Slayer was hit by all the accumulated knowledge and memories and wisdom of the entire preceding Slayer line all at once.

Doesn't this contradict what we see of Buffy's calling, though? (Granted, you could just say that's not canon, I suppose.) Buffy may be having dreams, but she seems pretty clueless even after she's been called, and needs Merrick to explain it all to her. How would Slayers on their own sort it all out without someone to explain it? Or are we to assume that this empowerment spell is different from single Slayers being called? (It would handily eliminate the need for Watchers - now in short supply - if Slayers suddenly woke up with all the knowledge and wisdom of the Slayer line.)

TBC...

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 28th January 2009 23:17 (UTC)


I'm not saying that this obviates the consent issue, but I'm sure we all agree that if the choice is cake or death, being forced to eat cake is a minor inconvenience compared to the alternative.

Well, I've seen the argument that empowering the Slayers was putting those girls in danger. Sure, they might've ended up as a random victim before, but billions of people go about their daily lives and survive without Slayer powers. But as Slayers, now vampires and demons will be targeting these girls, and they might not know how to protect themselves. They have super strength, but without the training to hone their skills, that may not be much help. (Even Buffy, with years of experience, managed to almost get killed by a random vamp a few times.) Personally, I don't think that potential risk outweighs the benefit, but I figured I'd throw it out there and see what you thought.

P.S. You can just assume that anything I didn't point out specifically, I agreed with. :) Very interesting meta!

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:14 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 00:22 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 01:14 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 01:23 (UTC)

Posted by: Episkopos Rev. Alixtii O'Krul V, TRL (alixtii)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 20:39 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 01:01 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 01:16 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 01:34 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 01:55 (UTC)

Posted by: lara beckinsale (larabeckinsale)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 01:15 (UTC)

I strongly agree with your number 5:

"I don't believe that feminism requires men to be superseded and sidelined. The fact that a man (Spike) can willingly accept a woman's leadership and fight beside her is surely a powerful feminist statement?"


The fact that a man can accept a woman's leadership is a statement that puts them both on equal grown, which I believe is the whole point of feminism. She relied on him, he relied on her, two parts working as one. It shows a man respecting the woman for who she is.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 01:17 (UTC)

Absolutely. :-)

Posted by: Dave (dlgood)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 02:42 (UTC)

Probably not a good idea poking at things your ID as "beliefs" but I kind of do that anyway:

. Buffy's plan made good tactical sense. Her victory wasn't solely down to luck.

I'll admit that this assertion relies on several assumptions, not least of which is that the writing and direction of the episode do nothing to imply that her plan was a bad one.


So long as we're clear you're relying on several assumptions. The tactics were very, very poor. Most likely, this was for dramatic reasons - but poor reasoning nonetheless if we're attempting to take the show on it's face.

You might argue that Dana (from 'Damage') is a poor candidate for becoming a Slayer. However, after being victimised and haunted all her life, being Chosen finally allowed her to feel strong and to conquer her demons. It was nothing but a good thing for her. Maybe less good for those around her.

I do not view this as insignificant. If your 'treatment' of one person's prior victimization results in victimization (in the form of grisly murder) for several more people... the treatment is not beyond question.

One criticism of the "Potentials are different to normal people" approach is that it lays the show open to charges that it's advocating oligarchy, the triumph of the Overman and the creation of a master race to rule over the rest of humanity. 'Chosen' didn't present it like that, of course; the message of the big montage scene was that Everywoman was becoming a Slayer, that every girl who can stand up, will stand up. Unless she's already a witch, an ex-demon or a ball of green glowing energy, of course.

Every girl. Except those girls without potential. But the flaw isn't about a Master Race or Nietzschean Superman - which I see as less legitimate objection and more as a distraction from a much larger problem.

The show does advocate oligarchy, but not through Superior Inborn potential. It advocates it through membership of a secret, elite inteligentsia. Those who are members of the special club get to be heroic. The are left to flee thier homes and lives. If we'd seen some community outreach from Our Heroes, this might be a different story. Intentional or no, S7 seems to contain an unambiguous message about which people are and are not worth the effort of educating and involving in the defense of their homes & lives. I guess this town didn't have a single first-responder worth talking to in the months prior to the Final Battle.

Beyond which, absence of any comment from Buffy or Faith about their own "potential" vs. Slayer past histories raises some question. There is certainly no indication Faith thought she had "Potential". And her prior bad acts also put some question to the "they must be good because it picked them / because it picked them, they must be good" rationale.

(Linked to this, we need to note that Buffy never wandered about smashing and destroying things accidentally because she didn't know her own strength, the way fyarl!Giles did in 'A New Man'.

Actually, yes she did. Witness her drawer of broken alarm clocks. This is not clumsiness - it is carelessness. One is within bounds to worry about displays of superpowered carelessness.

Again - all of this is not to say your Ten Cannot be Good Things, or that they are Actually Bad. It is to assert that they are not unambiguously so.

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 02:50 (UTC)

Witness her drawer of broken alarm clocks.

To be fair, I think we've only ever actually seen her break one...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 12:14 (UTC)

Posted by: Dave (dlgood)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:43 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 16:11 (UTC)

Posted by: Dave (dlgood)
Posted at: 30th January 2009 03:11 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 30th January 2009 11:10 (UTC)

Posted by: Dave (dlgood)
Posted at: 31st January 2009 00:33 (UTC)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 03:30 (UTC)
pic#82749049

I agree more or less with most of these points.

Regarding point six... I think Willow's spell did in fact activate all the Potentials, regardless of suitability or readiness. My working theory has been that Potentials reach that status when they become physically adult (onset of menstruation) and remain that way for a fixed period of time.

I don't think girls are born with the "Potential potential." I think the magic seeks out suitable candidates when they reach the required age/condition. We've never seen any Potentials or Slayers who were obese, or physically or mentally disabled, or even physically unattractive (though why this last one would be a factor, I don't know). So it's unlikely to be random, or encoded from birth when any number of future accidents or circumstances could result in an incapable Slayer.

There were girls as young as 11 or 12 activated in "Chosen" (Baseball Girl was mentioned as being 12 in the shooting script). But while Buffy's group might seek those girls out and keep an eye on them, they wouldn't try to pull them away from their parents to go fight demons.

I'm still not convinced, Soledad notwithstanding, that there's a "16th birthday rule" in the post-Chosen Buffyverse. I think it was a little too convenient that she activated right at the moment she was fighting for her life. IMO it was a coincidence that Soledad chose her 16th birthday as her target date for confronting her gang, and it was on that occasion that she *needed* her Slayer power to survive for the first time. So that's when she got it.

In my theory, some Potentials may still never activate if they never encounter a serious physical threat during their "potential" period.

And now I await the casual comment in the comics that will prove me wrong.

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 03:34 (UTC)

Ooh. Slayer-in-a-wheelchair-being-called plotbunny...

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 08:51 (UTC)

Posted by: Episkopos Rev. Alixtii O'Krul V, TRL (alixtii)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 20:55 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 12:37 (UTC)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:27 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:48 (UTC)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 16:14 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 16:39 (UTC)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:37 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 18:04 (UTC)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 18:23 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:52 (UTC)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 20:02 (UTC)

Posted by: Episkopos Rev. Alixtii O'Krul V, TRL (alixtii)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 21:03 (UTC)

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 05:41 (UTC)

Good to see you around these parts again, and I hope all is going well or at least better.

Agree with everything on this list, with these exceptions:

6 - Disagree

8 - Mostly agree, except I'd say on the whole the mythical 'average Slayer's' life was improved, but of course there are always exceptions.

9 - No, they're half-demons (at most :).

10 - Mostly agree, with qualifications that are harder to put into words but which I hope to explore in my own series.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 12:41 (UTC)

Thanks. It's not all, as they say, hugs and puppies but I'm getting back into the swing of things more.

I've got no problems with qualifications and exceptions and "yes, but..."s; they're what makes a story interesting. But you need to agree on the basic principles first if the exception to the rule is going to have any power.

I don't think a Slayer infused with demonic energy is any more of a demon than, say, a witch drawing on magical energy to cast her spells. Make of that what you will. :-)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 06:17 (UTC)

After reading your exchange with gabriellabelle about the battle, I have to say I wonder if maybe there aren't different versions. In the US version, I get the following sequence:

1. Buffy is down. They are losing.

2. Buffy tells the First to get out of her face.

3. Cue heroic music.

4. Close up shots of Buffy and others kicking vampire ass. (NO long establishing shots here.)

5. Amulet kicks in.

6. Light shoots out and vaporizes a good handful of vamps right near Spike.

7. Long shot of hordes of vamps coming up the cliff and down below getting vaporized as the light pours down into the cavern.

I watched three times and could not pick up the line about them retreating.

It sure looks to me like the heroic music and hero shots were about Buffy getting her mojo back enough to actually hold the line and beat back the vamps long enough to give Spike's amulet a chance to kick in.

But it looks like it's the amulet that knocks out the hordes of vamps who sure look like they're still on the way up, not running off. Massive hordes. (at least by the way their limited CGI could handle it).

As for Spike's statement: Buffy has told him he's done enough. And then he says No, you beat them back. It's for me to do the clean-up. But if by clean-up you mean vaporize the vamps -- well, he already did that. The shot of them getting vaporized is before this not after. What comes after is that the hell mouth, now empty of vamps, collapses in on itself. So I'd read him as saying basically this: No, you beat them back (long enough for the amulet to wipe them out which I'm not going to mention). (Now that they are wiped out by what the amulet has already done, which I'm still not going to mention), it's for me to do the clean up (by staying long enough to close the hell mouth). Don't forget that the reason he says this at all is that he's telling Buffy why he's not going to leave now even though the vamps have all been wiped out.

It was no small thing for 30 slayers to be strong enough to hold off hordes of uber vamps long enough for the amulet to work. And I think you can argue that the amulet got engaged by Buffy's reengagement with the battle. And if that's right, we avoid the problem that the slayers (and Buffy) had no direct hand in achieving the victory. But I think you're wrong to say that even if there were no amulet they'd have won. The amulet took out hundreds of advancing vamps. There's no good reason at all to think that a handful of slayers could have kept it up long enough to wipe them out -- especially if (as is likely) the CGI shot follows conventional cinematic language where a few hundred stands in for "ungodly number" (the impression the similar shot at the end of GID is meant to convey.)

I should add that I doubt Joss is worried about the detail of whether the plan made sense. Wave hands and assume that Buffy had some idea of what the amulet would do and calculated that if they were all empowered they could hold the vamps off long enough for the amulet to do it.

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 07:22 (UTC)
nifty willow

...word.

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 08:33 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:21 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:31 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 10:55 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:16 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:34 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:56 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 17:34 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:50 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 22:16 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 18:43 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 18:44 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:22 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:40 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 20:37 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 21:26 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 21:49 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 21:52 (UTC)

Posted by: Caroline (jamalov29)
Posted at: 30th January 2009 10:48 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:18 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 19:42 (UTC)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 11:15 (UTC)

"And that's because the one The First chose as Its champion was the meanest, toughest, most dangerous of them all. It was as much stronger than normal turok-han as Spike or Angel are tougher than normal vampires. It's also possible that The First empowered it with extra strength in the same way that It did to Caleb."

Great fanwank, but I just don't see it like that myself.

" I think that after tens of thousands of years of being linked so closely to so many human girls, it would have become a very human kind of demon in its outlook and attitudes..."

So, still basically a Demon then? *g*

Will respond to more later when I have more time.




Edited at 2009-01-29 11:41 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:23 (UTC)

I just don't see it like that myself

Do you think the First would have just grabbed the first turok-han to walk past to be its champion and "bring authority to its presence", then? :-)


So, still basically a Demon then?

I never claimed otherwise. :-) But Spike and Angel are demons. So's Lorne. So's Illyria (and in fact, it was Illyria and the effect sharing her shell with Fred's memories had on her that I had in mind here.)

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:28 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 13:53 (UTC)

I agree with practically everything you say Except #2. I agree - that's what we're supposed to see: a bunch of girls overpowered thousands of ubervamps, the magic mojo didn't play a crucial role. But it just falls apart as soon as you start actually *think* about it. ;)

I only want to add that, in my opinion, everything you describe in your post is valid only for season 7. Season 8 is a different animal.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:24 (UTC)

If Joss ever does a Q&A session again, one thing I'd love to see him asked is "If you were given a time machine and the opportunity to go back and re-make 'Chosen' with the benefit of hindsight, what would you do differently?"


everything you describe in your post is valid only for season 7.

An interesting statement. :-) I'd say that because 'Chosen' was a finale, it was necessary to present some things in the best possible light and sweep the complications and potential problems under the carpet, because they'd just detract from the mood. Season 8 gives Joss to say "Well, actually, you know..."

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 20:08 (UTC)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 14:44 (UTC)

Here's another point I would add to the list...

11. Willow's Scythe spell had an effects on the existing Slayers as well as the Potentials. And we may not yet know the full extent of those effects.

In the Hellmouth fight, Buffy is run clean through with a sword. The First tells her she's mortally wounded, which may just have been a lie, but there's no question Buffy is in bad shape.

Yet moments later she shakes it off and starts fighting again. That by itself could be down to adrenaline or sheer guts... but after the fight she's sprinting across rooftops and jumping from great heights onto moving buses without the slightest hint that she'd even been scratched.

This is far more than normal Slayer healing could account for. Did Willow's spell release such a burst of Slayer magic that even the existing Slayers had their abilities temporarily amplified?

And if so, what other effects might it have had on Buffy and Faith?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th January 2009 15:53 (UTC)

Very interesting point!

Then again, it's actually something we've seen before... whenever Buffy suffers a near-death experience ('Prophecy Girl', 'Bad Girls', 'Bring On The Night') she always seems to come back refreshed, determined and far stronger than before. Maybe it's something in the Slayer power that feeds on death? Or facing her mortality and surviving helps Buffy to re-connect to her own deepest source of strength?

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