Jun 24 2013 1:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: That’s a Gift with Purchase

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, After Life

“After Life,” by Jane Espenson

Biker demons are fleeing Sunnydale, and WillTara and XandAnya are rushing back to the Summers house to see if the newly resurrected Buffy is there.  They’re worrying that she’s broken or dangerous. She sure didn’t seem like her old self after she clawed her way out of the ground and defeated the hellions for them.

They are headed the right way. Buffy is, in fact, home, having been brought there by Dawn. There’s a nice echo of the scene last year where the girls bring Joyce home before her tumor surgery—like Joyce then, Buffy now finds the light a bit too bright. Dawn’s freaking out but trying to hide it, tour guiding her sister through the slightly altered terrain of their home, and helping her clean up.

Spike, meanwhile, has been on a frantic search for Dawn that has led him right to their doorstep. He mistakes Buffy for the ‘bot for all of a second and then it hits him. Oh. He knows what’s wrong with Buffy’s hands, and sets to helping the girls. He’s very stunned, very sweet, and very kind. Now that they’ve both come back from the dead, they have a lot in common. There’s a connection that wasn’t there before.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, After Life, Spike

It’s an important shift for Spuffy, but Spike—perhaps fortunately—doesn’t perceive it. And when the Scoobies come rushing in, full of questions and worry, he bails, making it only as far as his favorite stalking tree in the yard before he breaks down.

Buffy is in no shape to handle an onslaught of “OMG, Concern!” and “Hey, what was Hell like?” Dawn is obliged to run interference for her. I love that she’s doing this—it’s neat to see her being the grown-up in this scene.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, After Life, Spike, Xander, Anya

By the time Buffy retreats to her room, Spike is furious with the Scoobs. He lays into Xander, declaring that Willow kept the resurrection plan from him because she knew it could go horribly wrong. He raises the ugly image of Willow having to dispose of a badly resurrected Buffy, and reminds us all that magic has consequences... that there will be a price for this.

Back in the house, WillTara are worrying and winding down. Willow is wishing Buffy would snap out of it and offer up some evidence that she’s okay, preferably with something along the lines of a thank you for the rescue. In time they go to sleep, and they’re accosted by a Buffy-shaped apparition. She’s deeply angry, throwing things, and accuses them of meddling with forces beyond their control. Across town, Xander’s on the phone hearing about this turn of events when Anya appears to hack into her own face with a butcher’s knife. Then she faints.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, After Life, Willow, Tara

Clearly, something demonic is ahoof.

The four of them gather to debrief and plan. Buffy walks in on the meeting, and they tell her it’s okay, they’ve got it. Also, they’re so happy she’s back from Hell! Right, she thinks. That Hell thing again. She doesn’t offer enthusiastic agreement.

As everyone starts making a list of demons who could have hitched a transdimensional ride with Buffy, she, feeling the need for some space, heads out on patrol. By patrol she actually means it’s time to go whisper in a dead man’s ear—she makes her way to Spike’s crypt, where he essentially tells her he’s sorry he didn’t save her. The face-slicing demon, meanwhile, is hanging around in the Magic Box, checking out the cozy confines of Dawn’s head, snooping for intel and, when that gets dull, breathing fire on the gang.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, After Life, Dawn

The Scoobies put out the flames and eventually work out that they created the demon. Hey, there’s that price Spike was talking about! Their main option for getting rid of it is to give back Buffy.

Dawn flips out at the mere suggestion. Why shouldn’t she? Even if the others are secretly thinking that Resurrected Buffy isn’t quite as fun as Original Recipe, losing her again would be just too much to bear.

Plus, they already called Giles and told him to haul butt back to California. Nobody can imagine greeting him at the airport and saying “Um, there were parts missing so we shipped her back.”

Luckily, the refund policy on raising a dead friend has a time limit. Willow’s reading reveals that if they can keep the demon from killing Buffy for awhile . . . oops! They just told the demon, who’s camping within Xander now, that it needs to kill Buffy.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, After Life

The demon zooms off to Chez Summers to see if it can do just that. It has only existed for a very short time, so it can be forgiven for not realizing how very much the odds are not in its favor. Even so, it has a good go at demoralizing Buffy by telling her she doesn’t belong in the real world anymore, that there’s no place for her. XandAnya and Dawn rush over to help with the fighting as WillTara buckle down to work on a spell to make the thing solid.

Once they do, she beheads it pretty handily.

So, hurrah! Right? As prices for a resurrection go, some lost sleep, a few scares, and another round of ‘clean the demon blood out of the bedroom carpet’ basically make for a steal of a deal.

Except, of course, we’re nowhere near the real price yet.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, After Life, Xander, Anya, Willow Tara

I wonder if S6 might not be, in a sense, the Year of the Decoy. “After Life” is meant to imply that the price of Buffy’s resurrection is this invented straw man of a ghostly monster. With it decapitated, we are invited to imagine that things will fall into their usual BtVS seasonal pattern. You know how it often goes: Buffy returns from wherever she’s been all summer, and then a bad guy comes to Sunnydale. The villain is temporarily backgrounded as the Scoobies develop and struggle with some more internal-to-them problem—like Faith, in S3, or their alienation from each other in S4.

Finally, there’s a renewed commitment within the group followed by a build-up to the big combat showdown.

There have been decoys aplenty on the show before: Spike and Drusilla appear to be the big bads in S2 for just long enough to hide the looming problem of Angelus, and in the following year Mr. Trick waltzes onstage to warm us up for meeting the Mayor. Even Glory is, in a sense, a bit of a decoy—the truly rotten apple in the S5 barrel is Ben, who sells out Dawn because he’s unable to resist the temptation to save himself.

I’m not saying that BtVS was locked in one predictable story arc. There were tons of variations and surprises. In S5, the team conflict is dialed down. After the big bonding that helped them defeat Adam, the Scoobies are all about finishing the process of incorporating Tara and Anya into the team—then expanding even further to include the far more problematic Spike and Dawn. But now in this sixth year, there’s all this sleight-of-hand meant to hide the fact that the world-ending evil of the season—the real threat—is truly homegrown.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, After Life, Dawn

But before that can happen, there are so many other days to be gotten through. Buffy starts hers by making lunch for Dawn, demonstrating her determination to return to the world of the normal for the sake of her loved ones. Especially the innocent loved one who didn’t yank her out of the afterlife.

In return, that innocent loved one tells her, without realizing it, what the Scoobies want from her. They want to see her being happy.

So Buffy immediately, dutifully, unenthusiastically goes to the Magic Box and delivers the validation and thank you that Willow in particular has been waiting for. She tells them she was in Hell (or a Hell) and that they pulled her out of there and she’s grateful.

She’s so lying.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, After Life. Willow, Xander

She flees before they can question her sincerity or her facts, and finds Spike lurking outside. He heard the whole thing. He asks if there’s anything he can do to help her. Sometimes Spike is geniunely awesome. He would make a great mom.

Buffy tells him the truth. She was in Heaven, or something like it, and her friends jerked her out.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, After Life, Spike

Damn, Spike. What do you say to that?

Next: And plus, she’s broke.

A.M. Dellamonica has tons of fiction up here on! Her ‘baby werewolf has two mommies,’ story, “The Cage,” made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010. There’s also “Among the Silvering Herd,” the first of a series of stories called The Gales. (Watch for the second Gale, story too—“The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti”!)

Or if you like, check out her sexy novelette, “Wild Things,” that ties into the world of her award winning novel Indigo Springs and its sequel, Blue Magic.

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Chris L
1. Chris L
I always understood the desire to have Buffy back, for the group, but never logic that it was for anything other than selfish reasons, nor the thought (or lacktherof) by any of the 4 involved that she probably didn't get sent to (a) hell for sacrificing herself to save the world.

Anya, the former demon of all people, should have offered up the argument that just maybe Buffy is in a BETTER place, not a worse one.
Chris Nelly
2. Aeryl
I can understand the belief. Regardless of whether Buffy deserved to be rewarded with a happy afterlife, the fact is, she died jumping into a doorway that led to a hell dimension, so I can forgive them for believing that's where she was.

What gets me is Willow's expectations of gratitude.
Chris L
3. Kiz
Anyone else thinks it looks like Xander is smelling Buffy's hair in that hugging photo.
But to move onto the real thing. It seems like all they want her to do is act "normal". Errrmm Hello just returned from a hell demension here! It really feels like oh you just went through something but you're the slayer so you should already be over it vibe.
Chris L
5. Chris L
@Aeryl - I don't buy the belief thing, mostly because her body stayed in the same dimension as she fell through, landing on the ground below. It wasn't physically and immediately transported to the hell dimension. And the series has shown pretty well up to this point that when people are sent to a hell dimension, it happens bodily and nothing is left behind to bury.
Marty Beck
4. martytargaryen
(Not sure if we are avoiding any spoilers, or if this is strictly for re-watchers)

I always read this sequence of events (beginning S6) as the jump-start of Dark!Willow. I see it as a case of the more you use the dark stuff, the more you want it, while it slowly changes you. So, when willow tapped into the Osiris power, it sort of made her more selfish (expecting the gratitude, as you say Aeryl), and more proud (her confrontation w/ Giles in "Flooded"), and...well, we know where it goes from there.

I tend to agree that the act itself was mostly selfish. No, they didn't know she was in a sort of heaven. But they also didn't try too hard to find out. If they did, over the Summer, then it was never mentioned IIRC.

By the way, I'm a fairly new Buffy fan. And this is one of my favorite episodes because of Spike's reaction and his scene w/ Buffy at her house.
Chris L
6. build6
yes - the part where Buffy descends the stairs and Spike is there (and the little bit of "private talking time" they had together after)... I'll not lie, I semi-regularly load up that episode and forward to that bit :-)

"Spike ... look"
Marie Veek
7. SlackerSpice
@5: I always figured they meant her soul was trapped after her death, not like how Fred was in Pylea.
Emma Rosloff
8. emmarosloff
@4: No need to avoid spoilers. We're all re-watchers here.

And I agree -- my favorite moment in this episode is Spike's reaction to seeing Buffy alive for the first time (once he realizes she's not the Buffybot). Like a blind man who can see again. The best part is that it's all in his eyes, the sheer depth of what he feels, soulessness be damned (um... no pun intended?).

And then how he treats her. Just perfect. He's so quiet, like he understands how jarring the world must feel to her; how it's too bright and loud and foreign. It breaks my heart a little every time when the Scoobies burst in and Spike flees. It's great drama, of course, but a part of me would love to have seen that interaction play out in full. There's a lot of Spike being bad in this season, but I was always more intrigued by Spike being good, however fleeting the moments might be.

I do love when he confronts Anya and Xander about his lack of involvement in Buffy's ressurection. I think it's ironic and yet very telling that Buffy's souless stalker is more concerned for her genuine wellbeing than her loyal friends, who are too blindsided by grief and need to consider what Buffy might have wanted. It speaks to how little Spike is concerned with himself; how genuine his love is for Buffy that he would rather she stay dead than risk her coming back altered in anyway.

His obsession is still very clear, though. "Every night I saved you" is a touching speech, as is his continued devotion to the fight against evil and the Scoobies, but it's all done out of his love for Buffy, which quite literally consumes him. He has nothing else, and although it's changing him, and for the better... that's not fair to Buffy in the end, to pin his entire world on her.

I also agree that Willow's upset at not being thanked always blows me away... that she could be so into herself and her own power that she can't see what's going on with Buffy at all. Good foreshadowing, certainly. I understood the Scoobies reaction on the whole -- their devoted to the fight against evil, but without the Slayer at their front, what can they possibly do? Some, but not much. They need her, not just as a friend, but as a leader, to continue the fight. With Faith AWOL/put away, there won't be a new Slayer to rise to the occasion and head on down to Sunnydale (although that would've been a fun subplot -- Watchers attempt to suss Faith out and kill her, to awaken a new Slayer... would certainly drive home the ideal that the Slayer is just a "tool" to them).

The world still needs Buffy around to save it, even though it isn't fair to her at all.
Alyx Dellamonica
9. AMDellamonica
Kiz, I get the "act normal" thing. It's very hard not to put pressure on loved ones who are down (she said, oversimplifying greatly) to perk up.

What seems manifestly true is the Scoobies probably had the resources to find out if Buffy was in a hell-dimension before resurrecting her. That had to be a less complicated spell. But there's no good story in, "Oh, she's in Heaven, bully for her!"
Marty Beck
10. martytargaryen
This season (up through "Normal Again") is a great illustration of one person battling depression (Going through the motions, indeed) and how it affects those around them. Especially those loved-ones not understanding what's going on inside them.

@9 - re. the Scoobies reactions and the story implications. Remember that Willow has been looking for the quick fix to her emotional issues since Oz left (or before? not sure). So, even if Buffy was in a good place, I am not sure Willow would want to hear it. She just could not deal with her emotions in a healthy way. And IIRC, some of the Scoobies were having second thoughts in S6E1 but Willow bsically railroaded them. IMO this event was well set up character-wise.
Chris L
11. Robert Stadler
I don't think that Willow is really being selfish in this episode, at least not more than anyone would.

I think that Willow has in her head a storyline of what happened, in which she led the effort to rescue her friend from Hell. And Willow is starting to get the sense that this storyline doesn't exactly fit, but she's not really sure why. The comment about wanting Buffy to thank her is not about wanting praise, it's about making the storyline fit. Because, if the storyline doesn't fit, then Willow may have made a horrible mistake.
Chris Nelly
12. Aeryl
@11, At the same time, she knows what it's like when someone comes back from Hell. She heard Buffy talk about what it was like with Angel. And when Angel had the opportunity to confront the person who "rescued" him from Hell, he sure wasn't thanking them for it!

So she should know, it ain't going to be all puppies and rainbows after Buffy comes back. But that's what she wants, she wants normal, and she wants to be thanked. All of which I think points to the selfish behavior that leads her down the path to Dark Willow.
Chris L
13. Dianthus
I've said it before and I'll say it again: The others need Buffy to be ok so they can be ok with what they did. Even tho' they don't know the full story yet, they know it was a really big deal, with Willow weilding some seriously big, bad magic. She definitely has her issues, including a need for approval, that will lead her down a dark path.
Of course I love the Spuffy in this (thanks, Jane!), especially their first scene. He strikes just the right notes here. It also goes back to the idea that Spike represents Buffy's Slayerness. He/it are in full command here, until the Scoobies come crashing down on them.
OTOH, in that same regard, she is his whole world, and he would feel that much worse for not being able to save her. Plus they had the 'bot around all summer, a painful and embarassing reminder of his failure. The irony of this is huge IMO. He came to Sunnydale partly with a mind to kill his third Slayer, but instead of her death being his latest triumph, he blames himself for her need to make such a sacrifice. I can't help but wonder, tho' they never say so explicitly, if that's part of the reason why he'll allow her to treat him so poorly. To his way of thinking, she's entitled to punish him.
Of course, that all doesn't even start 'til there's sex involved. It's not exactly what I'd call pro-sex Feminism. Although it's why I think their relationship has an underlying theme of masturbation. It brings her comfort, but at the same time, she feels guilty and ashamed. I used to feel that way myself, when I was younger.
Chris L
14. Gardner Dozois
Best part of the episode by far are the interactions between Spike and Buffy, which are among some the best they ever have in the entire series. The ghost-monster and the buildup to it is just a throwaway to give Buffy something fighterish to do in the episode, ultimately unimportant. As has been pointed out, the real "price" is to be paid in the rest of the series.

I think it's a little hard on the rest of the Scoobies to expect them to have wondered if they might be pulling her out of Heaven rather than Hell. As Xander says, the idea was to bring her back to life. I don't think they spent much time speculating that she might not have wanted to come back. (And, of course, the REAL reason why they bring her back is that the series couldn't continue if they didn't.)

I wonder if Buffy is the only Slayer who ever came back to life and had to claw her way out of her coffin, like a vampire? The shared experience of that certainly is a strong bond between her and Spike. He's the only one she knows who really understands what she's been through.
Chris L
15. Dianthus
Alyx, I could not agree with you more. Spike really would make a great mom. It's crazy, 'cuz you so wouldn't expect it, but it makes me love him even more. We first saw him with the kid demons in Halloween (s2). Then we see him again and again with Dawn over the course of s5. I have a much easier time imagining him as a parent as opposed to Buffy, but I think she often gets points for qualities her friends have, since they're free-range bits of her.
I've read fanfic where they have have kids, or one of them (usually Spike) gets pregnant. I dunno why, but I've got a kink for gender- or body-swap stories. I tend to avoid mpreg (yeah, it's out there), but I read one that was recced on the basis of good character exploration, and it was kinda cute.
@8. It's the good you don't expect. It's what makes him different, and utterly fascinating. There seems to be no reason for it, it's just how he is. The folks @ ME never allowed for any other vampire to show that kind of potential (maybe Holden, if he'd stuck around long enough), but not even the non-killing vamp ho's Riley was frequenting were anything but vampires.
What I don't completely understand was why this didn't get more textual recognition on the show. It always seemed more like CYA than anything else. If vamps can change, then it's wrong to stake 'em. OTOH, with the chip in his head, Spike learns that by hurting others, he's hurting himself as well. Helping others will also pay off, eventually, when he needs help in s7.
Chris L
16. build6
@8 - perfect is the right word, yes!

and it's such a huge contrast between how angry he was (shouting about/at Dawn) when he came through the door and then how the switch flipped to tender when he realised it was Buffy

I also think it means something that Buffy asks the first "substantive" question from Spike ("how long was I gone?"), and she *trusts* Spike enough to tell him she had been in Heaven AND to keep it a secret for her.
Chris L
17. Dianthus
16. It's a great source of cognitive dissonance for me: we hear over and over that Buffy doesn't trust Spike, but we see (over and over) that she does. There must be a reason for it. Any guesses?
Marie Veek
18. SlackerSpice
Since this is now relevant, I bring you (someone else's) meta:
Risha Jorgensen
19. RishaBree
@15 - You said it yourself - if the Scoobies ever acknowledged that there is a possibility for vampires to be something other than pure evil, then they need to acknowledge the possibility that not everyone they've killed may have deserved it. That's a huge psychological burden, complicated by the fact that 99.9% of the time they would have been in the right. There was an earlier episode where Buffy says something about vampires being unable to love, and Angel starts to correct her. He's an adult with a lot of years experience with both the vampire and human perspectives, so he's capable of clearly seeing both their agency and their very real limitations. (Even Spike, always sensitive for a vampire and love's bitch, doesn't seem to care about people outside his very limited circle.) He also stops himself, because he knows that the Scoobies are too young to understand that yet.
Chris L
20. Dianthus
@18. Thanks for the link. She makes some very good points. Thing is, tho', this only covers s6. We saw Buffy trusting Spike multiple times in s5, before her depression. We saw in Family that Spike (tellingly, not Riley; not Angel) is part of her extended family - the family she's created for herself.
I think a big part of their connection stems from the fact that their power comes from the same source. We won't know that for some time, but it makes sense to me. Buffy's ambivalence to Spike is her ambivalence to her Slayerness.
Risha Jorgensen
21. RishaBree
This is also something that they'll eventually start to address on Angel, of course, with its array of non-evil demon species, and occasional vampires willing to stop eating people for convenience's sake.
Constance Sublette
22. Zorra
@4 Marty -- That's what I thought too.

Unlike so many for me Dark Willow's trajectory is deeply interesting -- it felt like an excellent and plausible turn of events. Even back in high school it was clear there was a thwarted boss of everything in Willow. For one example, when Miss Callender has her substitute teach the computer class, one of the first things Willow asks is does she have the power to give detention, and she's smiling, smiling, smiling.
Constance Sublette
23. Zorra
We're seeing non-evil demons already on Buffy -- for instance, adorable Clem ! -- who I got to see be a pizza delivery guy on Longmier, season 1. (There have been more than one actor and actress show up on Longmier who was on Buffy and / or Angel -- all of them I've seen in other shows too, which 'just' means they are having real acting careers, which is excellent.)

Love, C.
Marty Beck
24. martytargaryen
@19 - Angel is an interesting case, because even though he has 200+ years experience, I get the feeling that (from a human development perspective) it was mostly arrested development. ... and Liam wasn't exactly on the mature side as a young adult. So, sure he has the capacity for love, but I wouldn't say he is necessarily wise in that area.
Just a thought. I'm not disagreeing with you, just reflecting on that one point.
Chris Nelly
25. Aeryl
@24, I completely agree with you, which is why the age diff didn't bother me much. Angelus had been around for 200+ years, Angel was only 20, as there was no attempt to gain maturity on his part until he "met" Buffy.
Chris L
26. build6
@18 - interesting read

one thing that was raised, about the scoobies wanting Buffy back without considering the effects and ramifications of doing so: sometimes when you're (too?) familiar with someone you automatically think that you know what they want and don't think to ask/sit down and really think about it. Buffy's been their friend for so long, why wouldn't she NOT want to be with them again? Doesn't seem necessary to ask, let's not waste time and get cracking on getting her back

@21, 23 -

thing is, in Buffy, the "non-hostile" demons etc. aren't going to be the ones they run into - their patrols etc. are making them encounter the ones who ARE trying to actively kill people. And just because someone/things are theoretically redeemable doesn't mean you have to drop everything to redeem them - if a vampire could be "saved" but along the way there'll be a lot of dead innocents, you're better off killing him now. Giles even knew about that Riley-nest of prosti-vamps and never considered telling Buffy/the gang to hit it, for example: they're not out prowling for innocent victims, the Scoobies never ran into them on patrol
Risha Jorgensen
27. RishaBree
@24, @25 - I agree with you that Angel is immature in many ways, but I think there's a distinction to be drawn between experience and maturity. Even at 20 (was he only 20? For some reason I thought he was 23), Liam had lots of all the wrong kinds of experience, but he still acted like a petulant brat. Angelus was also a petulant brat with a lot of terrible experience, basically a meaner version of the same person turned up 1000%. I think that everyone, especially Angel himself, would agree that Angelus didn't have the capacity to love. Angel, on the other hand, is far from as mature as he should be for his massive experience level, but he has still managed to learn something over the years. If he hadn't, he wouldn't regret Liam's and Angelus' terrible choices so much. Liam would have gone and got drunk and talked himself into blaming everything on Darla and then gone on with living his life in exactly the same way. (It can be argued that Angel's gone too far in the other direction, of course.)

Which is, ironically, one of the reasons why I did view Angel's relationship with Buffy with something between mild dislike and being slightly skeeved, depending on the episode, but liked the Spuffy. I wouldn't approve of a human 20-23 year old getting involved with a somewhat immature (romantically) 16 year old, either. It was never an even playing field. Buffy and Spike sleeping together was a terrible idea all around for all the reasons we've alreay discussed. But by this point, Buffy has had a couple of relationships of varying degrees of seriousness under her belt. Spike may be older, but they could meet in the middle as adults and equals.
Chris L
28. Dianthus
Per Joss, Angel spent the first 100+ yrs of his ensoulment "navel gazing." He didn't willingly try to help anyone (except he didn't want to 'eat' that one baby) until that woman hiding out at the old Hyperion. As it is, he left her to the fear demon that was haunting the place 'cuz the other folks there did him wrong, and she didn't try to stop them.
He had to hit rock bottom - feeding off rats in an alley - before anything changed. Plus, Whistler came to take him in hand. We find out why (ultimately) in the comix. If Whistler hadn't pulled him out of the gutter it's uncertain when - or even if- Angel could've gotten better on his own.

@27. It wasn't sleeping with Spike that was the problem IMO. It was the objectifying. Buffy finds comfort in being with him, and he genuinely loves her. Had she been willing/able to see what was really going on with him, things might've been very different. As it was, she denied he could even have feelings in Dead Things (projection), and then she was all, Well, I guess your feelings are real to you (or words to that effect).
She sings about wanting the fire back in OMWF, and Spike's all about fire ("...this torch I bear/is scorching me..."). She could've warmed herself by that fire. Instead she played around with it, seemingly without regard for the possible consequences. As a result, she got burned. It's hardly surprising, really. Buffy and Willow were both playing around with powerful forces, while not respecting said power. That makes it a lot harder for me to be sympathetic.
OTOH, it's easier for me to appreciate Spuffy now (as opposed to Bangel) 'cuz we see them on a shared journey (the old-school defintion of Romance). Angel may have cleaned up his act after seeing Buffy, but Spike was directly influenced by her. Besides which, Angel has trouble staying on the wagon.
Freed from his curse, he kills the one person (Jenny) who's actively working to restore his soul. It's the last thing he wants, all navel-gazing aside. Silly me, I thought the whole point of activities often derided as navel-gazing (meditation and the like) was to gain self-awareness. Angel and (to a lesser extent) Buffy are both sadly lacking in this area.
I'd say Angel learned very little, if anything, from being ensouled against his will. Spike was as ready as he could be to win back his soul. He learned a lot from his experiences with the chip and his association with the Scoobies. It's change from within vs. change from without. Change from within being far more meaningful.
Alyx Dellamonica
29. AMDellamonica
I think there's an important distinction to be made between Spike and Angel/Angelus, and that's that the latter is in some sense two different people. This gives Angel, IMO, a somewhat smaller debt. He feels guilty (as does Spike, when he's resouled) but S2 made it pretty clear that different entities drive unsouled and resouled vamps.

Do they both have plenty reason to be sorry for their pasts? Absolutely.

Dianthus, I agree that the demon driving Spike is changed by the chip and the Scoobies. But once he's resouled, is it the demon who's continuing to love her?
Chris L
30. build6
is Buffy's problem re: Spike her past experience with Angel? Like, if Buffy hadn't had a negative experience prior, she'd have looked at what Spike was trying to offer her with a more neutral/objective perspective
Risha Jorgensen
31. RishaBree
Both are still present, right? If the demon genuinely loved her and sought to change for her without any outside urging, I don't know why that would change after being resouled - assuming that the demon itself has some sort of independent consciousness, of course. A better question might be why the soul loved her, since it wasn't around for those years. Again, assuming that it has any sort of feelings independent of Spike's brain. Post-soul mental health issues or not, overall, Spike seems to be largely integrated.
Chris Nelly
32. Aeryl
@31, I think a large part of that integration comes from the fact that Spike voluntarily sought his soul out, where Angel didn't. Because it was forced on him, the demon fought him, but since in Spike's case, it was the DEMON ITSELF that sought the soul, that made his integration easier.

I think we view Angel/Angelus as two seperate people, because Angel himself has compartmentalized them that way, like you see in Orpheus.

@30, Could be, but I also feel that without her experience with Angel, Spike would have been dust long ago, chipped or not. She can't acknowledge her feelings because Angel traumatized her, but she wouldn't have those feelings AT ALL, if Angel hadn't traumatized her. Catch-22
Chris L
33. Dianthus
@29. Demon and soul are different, but can we say that the soul is an independent entity with its own agenda? It seems to be the ME view of things (maybe), but I'm not sure it works for me.
It's unclear (frustratingly so) what a soul means in this 'verse. It's a leash for Angelus, a boon for Spike, and no guarantee whatsoever that you'll be doing what's right (Warren, Rack). The thing is, soul or no soul, Angelus is always there. Always. Ready to exploit any weakness. He enjoys causing pain and suffering. Even if he can't hurt anyone else directly, he'll hurt Angel, or cause Angel to hurt others.
It's been over a century, and Angel still hasn't reconciled or integrated the light and dark aspects of his divided nature. I can see it for the first decade or two, but a century? Seems to me Angel spends most of his time in a hell of his own creation.
Spike had a chip in his head for three years. All it did was cause him to repress his more violent tendencies. There was no commensurate reward for doing the right thing.
Still, since he couldn't just bash somebody over the head/eat him or her and take their stuff anymore, he had to cooperate with others to get what he needed. Fortunately, it was relatively easy for him.
@32. I have a hard time imagining Buffy dusting a chipped (ergo, harmless) vampire, especially Spike. She'd already made truce with him to defeat Angelus.
Otherwise, yeah. That's pretty much what I was saying. Spike wanted it, Angelus didn't, and that makes a world of difference.
Chris L
34. Dianthus
For a fun take on our current topic, I'd like to recommend Soul-drinker by hello_spikey on livejournal. It's a fairly quick read (3 parts) and it emphasizes the difference btwn unsouled Spike and unsouled Angel.
Chris Nelly
35. Aeryl
@33, But my comment that she'd dust Spike, chipped or not, was if she'd never had to deal with Angelus, so the fact that she's previously teamed up with him isn't really relevant.
Chris L
36. Dianthus
@35. My point was that Buffy's a hero, and part of that would be not staking a chipped/neutralized vampire - kinda like not killing Ben. After her experience with Angelus, I'm surprised she wouldn't take out a chipped vampire, 'cuz she knows what can happen when the demon slips its leash.
Chris Nelly
37. Aeryl
YMMV, but I think her experience with Angelus enabled her to be the hero that didn't kill Ben, so without it, I can see her being a lot more Manichean, like Buffy from "The Wish" and not differentiating between harmful and harmless vamp.
Risha Jorgensen
38. RishaBree
@37 - As an aside, thanks for the great new word. I'd never heard "Manichean" before.
Constance Sublette
39. Zorra
Another read of the entire Buffy - Spike arc, is that ancient trope: the love of a good woman will redeem the worst of men.

Love, C.
Chris L
40. Dianthus
@37. No surprise we disagree here, but again, there's no objective right or wrong. Buffy places an incredible amount of trust in Spike, even after Angel's betrayed her. For all she knew, they could've been in cahoots. I think such a betrayal would make someone less likely to trust than not.

@39. With a twist: His love for a good woman will redeem the worst of men.
Chris Nelly
41. Aeryl
@40, Well there is some indication as to what Buffy would be like without the whole Angel thing, but it's gotta be taken with a grain of salt as that Buffy is sans Scoobies too.
Chris L
42. Dianthus
@41. True, but that's only one possibility out of who knows how many. I can only speak from my own experience/POV. A betrayal like that would tend to make me more cynical and less trusting. Also, Xander does say she shut down 'cuz of Angel/us when they discuss what she should do about Riley leaving.
As it is, her trusting Spike was more out of plot necessity than anything else. At least it worked out for her, unlike her trust in whatshisface/The Siphon or Eldre Koh.
I still have a hard time with the idea that she'd go off to stay with a guy she just met after breaking out of police custody when she could've hitched a ride with Spike.

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