Buffy Vs Dracula

Season 5 starts off with a bang. The introduction of Dawn is disconcerting. Clearly, the audience knows she’s not really supposed to be there, but the Scoobies don’t seem to notice. The only thing different is that Buffy seems more domestically tense than usual.

So, cut to season five’s opener, “Buffy vs. Dracula,” where Dawn is finally introduced after hinting at her arrival for two seasons. Enter the Dark Prince, Dracula himself, who inevitably has heard of Buffy. Both Xander and Buffy are under Drac’s thrall, Giles ends up making time with the Dracy babes, while Anya is locked in a closet, and Willow and Tara are in the background doing research. Spike’s role is not important. Right before the credits role, Dawn appears, and the world changes. You can almost clearly see the exact moment in time when the change happens, and whether or not this was Joss Whedon’s intention, I’m not sure, but it can be seen. Buffy goes into Joyce’s room to say she and Riley are going out…there’s a split second as Joyce is putting on her earings right before she says anything that we see a change in her. It’s very subtle, but clear that something has changed, and a moment later, we see Dawn in Buffy’s room. This is the beginning of the end, as some might call it.

On another note, the first appearance of Joyce’s impending doom is during a Xander-specific episode called “The Replacement.” Buffy and Dawn are arguing about being in Buffy’s room. Enter Joyce. She claims to have a daughter-induced headache, but sarcastically seems pleased that they have finally learned to share, even if it is sharing the blame for giving her a headache. What soon will happen is the appearance of a tumor, that turns out to be Joyce’s demise. I’m not really looking forward to moving on with this season because halfway through, Joyce is no longer around, as she passes away in “The Body.” Makes me cry every time.

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Selfless

“Selfless”, the seventh season Buffy episode, is quite the contradiction with the name. It’s all about Anya being a Vengeance Demon and not enjoying it, Buffy needing to do her job and kill her, Xander wanting to protect her and Willow getting D’Hoffryn involved. Everyone appears to be being ’selfless’, but is that really the case? Anya is hurt, she became a Vengeance Demon again, purely out of selfishness. She also took back what she did in the episode to kill an entire fraternity, to rid herself of the horrible taste of mortality she had left over from being human. Sure, she felt pain for the people she killed, but she did it for herself.

The only one that was really clearly selfish was Xander. He still loves Anya and doesn’t want Buffy to kill her, so he tries to find her to talk and figure out another way to resolve the pesky problem of vengeance.

Buffy claims to be doing this because it’s her job, because she is the law and she draws the line when no one else can. She’s overexpressing her power, and I felt there may have been some residual anger from when she had to kill Angel AND when she saw Spike and Anya together.

Willow was pretty clear with her selfishness as well. She reached out a hand to help Anya, but Anya didn’t need to be helped. She was doing what she wanted someone to do for her whenn she was falling off the edge less than a year ago. The fact was that Willow and Anya are two different people. Willow has an addictive personality and let the magic devour her and her anger took over. She felt no pain. Anya became a demon by choice. She was hurt and angry and turned to vengeance as solace. But later, she felt the hurt she was causing and was strong enough to give it up on her own, with no help from the Scoobies.

I loved the episode, though. With the song break from Anya in the middle after Buffy stabbed her with a sword.

Thematically, all the characters are extremely selfish. It’s a wonder they stayed friends for so long. In the beginning, while still in high school, Buffy protected her friends mostly selflessly. It wasn’t until she began realizing her power and importance that she began being selfish with it. She even said that if she had known then what she knew now, she would have sacrificed Dawn to save the world instead of herself. Each character in their development has a selfish streak, but that makes them loveable and easily relateable.

Old Faithful

Insecure, bad-ass, revengeful, almost evil wicca. Ok, so the term “Wicca” bothers me. In the context that it’s used, it should be “Wiccan,” but that’s another story for a whole other time.

I am often perplexed by Willow, the seemingly sweet-turned-badass wicca. Her only real downfall was the fact that she let her flaws and her weakness get the best of her. I was reading one of those essays in “7 Seasons of Buffy” where authors discuss their favorite things about the whole series, and one person starts making a very good point about Willow. She abused power, she wasn’t addicted (or shouldn’t really have been portrayed as such in season six). I love how she is portrayed in the first season. The geeky computer chick with a major yen for her bestest of best friends in the whole world (not Buffy! Willow doesn’t turn gay until season 4) has a massive thurst for the knowledge. Even in Ted, Willow keeps some of his parts claiming, “I just wanna learn stuff.” to which Buffy responds, “You’re supposed to use your power for good.” It’s all about power with Willow. I think that statement really started the whole thing. Previous to that, I don’t think Willow was aware of just how powerful she was, with the knowledge then with the power. Being the shy outcast that she was, she was prone to self-esteem issues, therefore thinking she wasn’t all that special. But in Welcome to the Hellmouth, Buffy pretty much made sure that Willow knew she was worth hanging out with.

And it snowballed from there. She “experimented” with witchcraft, and used it as a device, the problem-solver. Problem: she and Xander were starting to develop feelings for each other. Solution: cast an “anti-love spell”. Problem: Oz dumped her, and she wanted to feel normal again. Solution: cast a spell to have her will be done, and use it to make herself feel better. Problem: Tara was shot and died instantly in front of her eyes. Solution: magic will solve everything, turn your eyes and hair black and go nuts. But the problem with her solutions is that they end up being problems in themselves. The anti love spell got her captured by Spike and inadvertantly made Oz and Cordelia see what was going on. The will it so spell almost got her friends killed, and turning into black-haired Willow got Warren killed and almost ended the world. What more can you ask for…

Willow’s gradual abuse of power nearly killed her friends, and yet they still forgave her. Now that’s the key to the Buffyverse.

Buffy and Faith, the Chosen Two

“You’re the bad Slayer now?  Wait!  I’m the good Slayer now?”

“We’re Slayers.  There’s only supposed to be one.  We’re not supposed to exist together.  That’s why we don’t get along.”

Slayer vs. Slayer.  There’s only supposed to be one.  One girl in all the world, chosen to stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness.  They weren’t supposed to exist at the same time.

But it was Buffy that changed the prophecy and the legend of the Slayer line.  Buffy died, and the world was changed forever.

When Buffy died the first time, Kendra was called to taker her place.  According to the prophecy, Buffy and Kendra were never supposed to meet each other, let alone fight together.  With Kendra’s appearance in Sunnydale, Buffy was forced to examine her own Slayerness.  She began to understand that it wasn’t something she could just get out of.  Being a Slayer wasn’t something to be taken lightly.  She saved lives, and that was supposed to mean something.  She was saving the world one vampire at a time.

After Kendra was murdered in cold blood by Drusilla, Faith was Chosen to be the next Slayer.  She watched as her Watcher was killed, and fled to Sunnydale to seek protection.  Upon meeting Buffy, she was immediately the exact opposite of everything Buffy was.  She was the dark Slayer.  Faith was the good Slayer to begin with, but she was everything Buffy was not.  She enjoyed slaying.  She was the party girl and a rebel.

Faith even began to act as the devil on Buffy’s shoulder.  “Want.  Take.  Have.”  That was Faith’s motto.  Buffy started buying into that way of thinking, until the accidental murder of an innocent man, who worked for Mayor Wilkins.  Once Buffy realized that Faith was darker than anyone thought, she began to take her Slayer duties more seriously.

Willow and Oz

Undoubtedly, my favorite couple in all the Buffyverse, until Spike and Buffy get together.  But Spike and Buffy was tormented and insane.  Where Oz and Willow are innocent and sweet.

From the first time Oz lays eyes on Willow, tingles are to be had.  And the first thing he says about her is

Who IS that girl?

And of course up until they officially meet that becomes he trademark catchphrase.  He is entranced by her.  To Oz, Willow is beautiful and mysterious, and someone he genuinely wants to get to know better.

The first time they actually meet is in the second season’s What’s My Line during career day.  Where they were the only two students  smart enough to be recruited by a secret government agency, it’s clear that they have intelligence in common, if nothing else.  Oz offers her a canope.  It may be love at first sight, even if they don’t know it right away.  But after Oz gets shot during the second part of the episode during the career fair, Willow takes part in helping Oz recover and opening his animal crackers.  That was a defining moment in their relationship.  It’s the single moment when Willow gets caught off guard, and Oz swoops in with a compliment, showing different sides to both characters.

Untitled Essay on Willow

Buffy: You and Willow are my best friends.

Xander: But Willow’s not looking to date you.  Or if she is, she’s playing it pretty close to the chest.

A defining foreshadowy line.

At the end of the first season, the first gay joke was made.  And it was about Willow.  It was rumored very early on that Joss Whedon knew he was going to have a gay character on the show.  And it was a toss up between Xander and Willow.

In the second season episode Phases, Xander gets a little squirrelly while the Scoobies are looking for possible werewolves.  One of the suspects was Larry, who just so happened to be gay.  He came out to Xander while being interrogated, making Xander extremely uncomfortable.  That scene could have been very telling, if Joss had decided that Xander would be his colorful character.

In season three’s Dopplegangland there is another poke at Willow’s future gayness.  Vamp Willow gives off a very touchy/feely vibe, to which Willow responds:

…And I think I’m kinda gay.

But it’s not until season four after Oz leaves that Willow takes a look at her life, steps back, and comes out to her friends.  Everyone, the audience included, is shocked, but accepting.  It’s a relief seeing Willow happy and Tara does that for her.  After Oz left, she was left broken and crying.  And Tara helped turn that around.

Willow, as a character, is intensely deep.  In the beginning, to define the religious parameters, Willow was defined as Jewish, and established by her name “Rosenberg.”  However, Willow’s religious orientation did little more than be poked fun at by saying things like “Tiny Jewish Santa” and having “big, honkin’ menorahs.” And by going to Xander’s house every year from Christmas to watch a Charlie Brown Christmas.

It was a crucial part of Willow’s character  and her development for her to come out as gay and was equally important for the audience to see Willow in a successful romantic relationship with a girl.  It not only defines her as an individual, but it creates a deeper, much more important story arc for her.

Had Willow not had a special relationship with Tara, maybe she wouldn’t have gone all black-haired and killed Warren after Tara’s death.  Maybe she wouldn’t have developed so far, and maybe she would have remained a one-dimensional character.  But in turn, she may have gotten worse with her magick addiction and the viewers would have seen a side of Willow that was more dangerous and evil than she was.

Tara gives Willow her humanity. She gives her life and purpose.  Tara and their relationship give Willow essence and allow her to grow and give her reason to be.

She’s Just a Girl

That’s all she’s really ever been.  Deep down, she’s just a girl.  Take away her friends, her Watcher, her Slayer powers, and what does that leave?  Just a girl.  Despite all the demons she’s fought, and the apocalypses she’s averted, and considering how many times she’s died, she still continues to be just a girl.

Every vampire she’s come in contact with who doesn’t know she’s a Slayer comments on the fact that she’s just a girl.  And her Slayerness to them is often a shock.  Buffy’s friends, the Scoobies, even mention that she needs a break sometimes because she’s not only the Slayer.  She’s just a girl.

Miss Calendar, at the end of the first season makes a pointed comment about Buffy.  An apocalypse is on the horizon.  Weird things have been happening.  To the point where Giles has to explain to Jenny that Buffy is the Slayer, and there is a prophecy that she will die.

She’s just so little.

Joyce over the years, both before and after she knows Buffy’s secret, tells Angel of Buffy’s insignificance.

So how come everyone can see that Buffy is just a girl, and everyone comments on it, and yet they all seem to ignore it and  send out the bat signal every time there’s trouble.  Yes, Buffy is the Chosen One and is built to fight evil.  She’s here to stand against the vampires, demons and the forces of darkness, but that doesn’t mean she feels no pain or is immune to everything in life other than the Hellmouth.