Buffy: Helpless

[Content Note: Drugging]

The best part about last night's Buffy was when Giles hypnotized her and stuck drugs in her arm after it has been established that she is weakened and losing her powers, because this is the conversation we had:

Husband: It was really only a matter of time before Giles turned out to be evil, huh?

Ana: No! No, he's injecting her with something that will help. This will be like that one scene in The Hunger Games where it's all controversial because Katniss' heart was in the right place but drugging people is still a breach of trust. You'll see.

...time passes...

Ana: ..........fuck.

...time passes...

Husband: So do you think this will last longer than one episode, like when Buffy left home?

Ana: Seems like she'd have the upper hand in this relationship with the Watcher Council, you know? There's really only one of her, if you don't count Faith, and she's the one doing all the heavy lifting.

Husband: I'm going to go work on the computer now.

Ana: Oh look! The next episode is a XANDER episode! It's like Christmas came early!

Husband: BYE.


Ana Mardoll said...

This is a test of the comment sync.

jill heather said...

I'm trying to recall, but as I think Giles ends up agreeing that he acted entirely horribly in this episode, no? I mean, there's no justification for what he did, but he realises he fucked up, apologises to Buffy, and tries to fix things, doesn't he? I really hate the subsequent Xander episode. (There is a single Xander episode that I enjoy, in season 4 or 5.)

Ana Mardoll said...

It is definitely handled better than all other trespasses against Buffy so far. I tweeting something along the lines of that, saying that I was just *relieved* that Buffy (and Giles) both acted like it was a terrible thing to do, instead of, say, Giles blaming her and Buffy apologizing. *cough*Joyce*cough*

But I thought it was sad/interesting/funny/something that I trusted Giles more than I apparently should have*. Which, you know, sucks.

(* Having said that, in my "defense", the whole setup is DONKEY BRAYINGLY STUPID. I know that Ancient Rituals aren't supposed to make sense, and maybe I should just be glad that the Stupid Ancient Ritual is a White Guy thing this time rather than the Other Race thing it usually is in fiction, but ohmigod this was stupid. I cannot think of anything stupider than this, that someone would stand up at a Watcher meeting to say this and not get laughed out of the room:

"We have a Slayer that managed to survive 2 years into her tenure -- against all odds, really -- and has accrued invaluable battlefield experience and book knowledge. Let's strip her of her powers (using medicine that won't be invented for however many years) and put her in a deadly situation to prove that she's canny!"

W.T.F. So if she wins, you know she's canny. Which, you know, she's proved 8,459,312 times already. And if she dies, you have to START OVER FROM SCRATCH. This was literally the stupidest thing ever. And Giles is supposed to be unusual in balking at drugging and maybe killing the girl he's nurtured for 2 years? Because Watchers are all sociopathic would-be child-killing murderers? And this makes sense because why? Like, literally, there is nothing in this episode that makes ANY sense.)

DISQUS Bot said...

This is an automatic message from DISQUS.

jill heather said...

Buffy's reaction to the story made sense. And I like that they have Giles make mistakes instead of being perfect. (He, like every character who isn't Xander, generally gets called on them)

Also, as per Kendra, Slayers often get training before they are called up to be the next Slayer, so before they get their superpowers. (As I recall from the movie, Buffy didn't, I don't remember with Faith.)

Yeah, you might have noticed by now that the Watcher's Council is full of idiots who are excessively bound by tradition. I can easily retcon a story where some Slayer somewhere got de-powered by magic and it proved she was doing something wrong, using force where it needed to be cleverness, and this turned into this inexplicable tradition. (Especially since I believe that Slayers can get called after they are 18.) Now, explaining why all the Watchers followed through merrily -- I don't know, maybe they were less paternal, or more convinced of how it was helpful, or maybe this test just didn't happen often because Slayers often died young or were called late or whatever? Maybe they were magicked into doing so? But then I believe that the Council said this was ALSO a test of the Watcher, so presumably Giles wasn't the first to balk and lose his job.

Thomas Keyton said...

The only reason there hasn't been a revolution against the Watchers is that there's only one Slayer at a time, IMO.

The only reason I can think of for having such a stupid tradition is as a very risky control measure to stop Slayers getting too independent (or simply finding out how incompetent the Watchers' Council is), and to enforce the obedience of the Slayer in question's Watcher, and the rapid recycling of Slayers is somewhat understandable given that the Watchers' Council doesn't have a demonic opposite number - but even then it's still stupid and runs the risk of producing rogue Slayers and Watchers who might well think to organise one, and no one being able to have nice things any more. Maybe it dates back to Merlin Dumbledore McMentorbeard at the Council's founding and they're too in awe of him to question it?

Ymfon Tviergh said...

It's been years since I watched the episode, but I think Giles mentioned that it was extremely rare for a Slayer to survive until Testing Day?

> "But then I believe that the Council said this was ALSO a test of the Watcher"

Now THAT would make sense: the whole testing-the-Slayer thing is just a facade, and the real purpose of the test is to make certain the Watcher hasn't gone native and started putting his Slayer's wellbeing ahead of his true task (keeping her subservient to the Council).

Isator Levi said...

"There are always several more being trained."

Oh! That's a detail I'd actually forgotten about (even though I've brought it up before); the implications that people who can become Slayers are, ideally to the Council, located and trained long before the mantle actually passes to them.

How long after Buffy "died" were they able to roll out Kendra? Kendra who was, in some ways, actually a superior Slayer to Buffy (let's face it, if Angel had been less concerned with playing mind games and more concerned with actually killing Buffy, he and Drusilla could have handled it readily). The idea of getting another Buffy, or even Faith, who you have to train from scratch actually seems to be something of an outlier.

From that perspective, a ritual designed to denigrate living Slayers and otherwise keep them from lasting too long might make a kind of grim sense; I'd say there's a mindset that looks upon somebody who has been trained most of their life for battle isn't somebody you want to grow into a powerful and terribly adjusted adult, especially if you imagine the possibility of them graduating into peacetime.

Niala Wesley said...

Buffy was 3 years into her tenure as the Slayer. She was activated around the time she turned 15. It was mid-freshman year and Helpless was mid-senior year. She met Giles after being the Slayer for 1 year.

I had little trust in the WC even in the beginning. Finding little girls, taking them away from their families, teaching them about demonology, training them in brutal combat and weaponry (which is basically a grown man beating up a child and promoting violence in her), instilling the idea that she is alone and the fate of the world is on her shoulders, that she is meant to die young, and then waiting for the current young woman to get murdered so that she can pick up her mantle, fight for several years, feel guilty if she doesn't give 100% of her blood sweat and tears to the cause that was forced on her before puberty, and then die before she ever got to experience life.

I think that one of the reasons that Buffy was such an anomaly is that the WC didn't find her until after she was already activated. While that meant she was in a "shove her into the water and see if she swims" position since she had to learn how to fight while patrolling every night and dealing with monsters-of-the-week it also meant that she had her own nearly fully formed identity prior to becoming the Slayer and meeting the WC.

Isator Levi said...

I think it's indicative of how heavily pressured and indoctrined Giles was, which is also why he breaks away so drastically.

I think they may have used "destiny" in a more metaphorical rather than literal sense there; it wasn't something cosmically apportioned to him, it was something expected of him due to supposed obligations of heritage (somethign that seems to be widely in vogue among the Watchers, and is probably a good way to maintain their conservative outlooks).

Isator Levi said...

Still, even with all of this said, I can't help but acknowledge that all this talk of the ceremony actually functioning as a way to eliminate the Slayer is basically speculation. I find it interesting, but it doesn't exactly seem to be something portrayed in the actual narrative. Going by the episode alone, it kind of seems like something to be taken at face value.

So, looking at it at face value...

Quentin Travers calls it an ancient rite of passage. Presumably, he views it as something where the Watchers give the Slayer who has lasted so long to demonstrate their accumulated aptitude in an context in which it cannot be said that they rely purely on their ingrained power, an assurance to naysayers and a source of pride and reassurance to the Slayer who survives (as well as implicitly a way of cutting their losses with a Slayer who has failed to be so trained). Of course, a rational analysis might conclude that living that long against a variety of threats is already an indication of their talent beyond power, but, well conservative attitudes and all.

Giles views it as an archaic practice in cruelty. Presumably, he thinks it developed more out of malice towards the Slayer. The argument could be made that malice towards your vanguard in the fight against evil is pointlessly self-defeating, but, well, we definitely need undertakers and urban cleaners, but that hasn't stopped some societies from developing caste systems that place such people on the lowest and most actively despised rung.

Obviously this is all Watsonian stuff. From a Doylist perspective, it's just a way of portraying a bunch of old white men who ostensibly control this powerful young woman demonstrating how messed up and kind of evil they are, to support a narrative of her breaking away from them.

Ana Mardoll said...

Sure! I mean, there are a lot of abusive parents out there, for example. But it does not therefore follow that non-abusive parents are uncommon. I just find it REALLY hard to believe that Giles would be such a rare instance of someone bonding with their Slayer. They're essentially warriors on a battlefield; if they don't get to a trusting bond sort of relationship, they're less likely to SURVIVE.

Honestly, if the Council really wanted total detachment, the more sensible thing to do would be to have everyone on mandatory 3 month rotation. But here is the thing: if they are really trying to stop Evil, they have to make allowances for personality. There is ONE Slayer. One. While they're finding the next one and squatting in her bushes trying not to get bitten by the family dog and praying that this one won't fall for the "your shoes are untied" evisceration trick, the world could end six ways before Sunday.

It just seems epically stupid to risk the entire world -- which, you know, means all the Watchers die -- for the sake of a tradition that doesn't make sense. Or to hold "no emotions between warriors" in higher regard than, you know, a combination that WORKS. It may be realistic that a group would be like this. It's not realistic (to me) that they've managed to keep the world safe thus far. As was said up-thread, the Law of Averages is strong and the Watcher-fu on display is completely weak.

DavidCheatham said...

I tried to warn you about Giles. :(

The thing is, this plot could have worked without being so horrible.

Training the slayer when she's depowered is easy to justify, narratively. Perhaps slayers are prone to simply using more and more brute force, and need to occasionally train without their powers to reset their reflexes back. And obviously an emergency springs up during that, because this is a TV show. And if the writers want the 'Buffy thinks she might have lost her powers' plot...make the entire thing mystic, and then have her powers apparently not coming back because Faith may be 'the real slayer'.

But not this. Taking away powers and then running a dangerous test makes no motivational sense for the Council, except perhaps as a way to get rid of slayers who are not doing their 'job'.

And even _there_ it's just a complicated way to murder them. Which I can see some sort of justification for, if the Slayer is not doing their job the world will probably end, so this turns into one of those 'Is it okay to kill one innocent person to save the world?', which I can see the council say 'Yes' to. Yes, it's horrible that some innocent girl has to die because she's not choosing to save the world, and so she has to die so someone else shows up who will, but it's horrible in a way that makes sense.

But Buffy, as someone who clearly is attempting to do her 'job', and even seem more competent than other Slayers, obviously is not someone who the Council should want to get rid of. And if the Council wanted to get rid of 'lazy' slayers, they need to be honest about it, and instead of doing via random test, actually make a real decision about it. A trial of some sort. _This_ method makes no sense at all.

This is, of course, pretending the Council wants to help, which we have no evidence of. The Council on Buffy is fairly horrible, and this episode is just one of the many reasons I loathe them. If it was just _this_ episode, I could ignore it, but it...ugh. You'll see more of their behavior this season and the start of next.

jill heather said...

Wait, as we learned in the Ethan Rayne plots and some other episodes too I think, Giles had his own destiny to be a watcher -- his father was one, he didn't want to be one. I have no idea how this can fit in and make sense with the rest of the plot, which is probably why it was quietly dropped.

hf said...

Ana: It may be realistic that a group would be like this. It's not realistic (to me) that they've managed to keep the world safe thus far.

Morpheus: What if I told you ... they didn't.

(That was mostly a joke. My real answer is both spoiler-packed and idiosyncratic.)

iiii said...

TW for abusiveness and depersonalization.

I think the point of the ritual is to underscore that the Watcher's primary allegiance is to the Council. The ancient tradition they're reenacting is God ordering Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and Abraham trussing the kid to a pile of firewood and striking a match. The Slayer is under the Watcher's control; the Watcher is under the Council's control; there is order in the world.

The years of combat experience lost with the sacrificed Slayer are not a consideration to the Council, because as far as they're concerned they're not losing a person. They're losing a pit bull. Just a matter of time before she fell in combat anyway. There are always several more being trained. A Slayer who dies in the ritual will be a loss, but... not that great a loss.

I believe the 'elaborate depowering and then trapping with the big scary monster' bit is meant to kill the Slayer while maintaining plausible deniability for the Watcher should she survive. If a Watcher tried to murder his Slayer himself and failed, it would be a nasty situation for the Council. So they have the Watcher secretly do the depowering and get a monster to do the actual killing. If the Slayer dies, the sacrifice is complete. (So sad! Send in the next girl.) If she lives, and the Watcher covered his tracks and holds his tongue, they get to keep her as an asset.

DavidCheatham said...

I think the only way the Council would know about those transgressions is if Giles has been reporting them, which I suppose he may well have done. That said, it's been implied that Buffy is way more competent than her predecessors, having killed the Master and survived several Slayer-killers. (Spike comes to mind, but there were more, no?)

The major form of communication from watcher to the council, the only one we ever heard of besides Giles calling up and asking for information, seems to be the Watcher journals. I rather suspect that the entire Council structure evolved without any sort of communication existing, and never changed.

In fact, thinking about it, not once in the entire series do we see the council attempting to make anyone do anything over the telephone. (I never really noticed that before.) They always show up in person.

So I suspect the only 'reports' that Giles is giving are the Watcher's journals he's probably writing. The question is...is he turning those in real time, or is the tradition to turn them in (or recover them) after his slayer's death, because the Council pre-dates Fed-Ex? And is he being honest in them? And if so, does anyone actually read them?

(Incidentally, I suspect that's why they let Giles get away. They're sure he's still writing journals, and they're sure they'll get them eventually, regardless of whether or not he 'works for them'...what else is he going to do with them? Basically 'firing' him makes no changes at all, because they never really exerted any control on the ground anyway.)

Isator Levi said...

One thing I've often felt about these kinds of setting where there are world-ending threats every few months is that it just shatters my sense of versimiltude. It creates a setting wherein you need to wonder how, with such a saturation of potential disasters, they've managed to not fall over the brink due to simple law of averages.

I can only assume that, when a Slayer is in the equation, world ending threats aren't too difficult to overcome. Buffy, after all, managed to avert at least one of them (maybe more) before she was seventeen.

Maybe there -is- something special and particular to Buffy that gives her such aptitude (assuming that these threats are only really concentrating around her in that time and place, rather than having general frequency). And maybe the Watcher's Council is too out-of-touch and hidebound to consider that, and just see Buffy as another life to throw away in their endless crusade, because experience isn't as highly valued as the raw power that can be constantly relied upon in the eternally recycled Slayer.

It's a view that I think the show will come to demonstrate the Watchers are incorrect in. But as something for them to weigh against maintaining their own authority in the face of a person who is (and can ever grow to be) a lot more powerful than them, well...

jill heather said...

And, although of course you can criticise a series in the middle, knowing that you are partway through a story (though note that pretty much every season finale of Buffy was meant to also work as a series finale -- except I think 6 -- because they never knew if there would be more, so it's not at all like judging a book halfway through), I will point out that I have watched the series all the way through. I have done it more than once. It is among my favourite tv shows.

General discussion of Xander below. I do not believe this is spoilery; I do not mention specific actions or results.

I disagree that repercussions ever truly come for the laundry list of shitty things that Xander has done in the series so far that Ana has seen, and the laundry list of shitty things that Xander's going to do in the series in the future. I furthermore disagree that Xander ever changes and stops doing stuff he has to compensate for, or that the things he does that are good (they exist, occasionally) *do* compensate for the regularly bad crap he does. (I know he's supposed to be an everyman character, but the men I know aren't flaming assholes, so I wonder why Xander is.)

Ana Mardoll said...

I don't know how to tell you this politely, so I'll just be blunt: Your comments are smelling very mansplainy to me.

Saying that Xander "does enough to compensate" is not an I-Statement. You don't seem to be allowing for the fact that different people have different standards of what Xander would need to do to make up for his past behavior. For example! I have a whole laundry list of things he would need to do, and I'm reasonably sure it's not going to happen. For you to describe what *actually* happens as "enough" basically tells me that my higher standards are unreasonable. Not cool.

Similarly, your comment about how repercussions will come later is a silencing tactic a la, "you can't really criticize the series until you've finished it." Also not cool.

And here you are VERY "the thing is" and "IRL" as though I just don't *understand* (my pretty little head!) and if someone would just *explain*, then I wouldn't think it's stupid anymore. Which is particularly frustrating given that I've already talked about in real life and why I don't think that answer is compelling, so you're creating the impression that, by gum, you're just going to explain it to me until I get it!

Sharing your opinion here is fine. Great, in fact! But you need to work on the I-Statements (google it) before you keep posting because you're coming off sounding like you don't care about sharing opinions so much as schooling people. I think that's not your intent, but your language is giving that impression.

hf said...

Moderator TW: Honor Killings, Reference to FGM

TW for everything ever:

When I first saw this I just thought the Council's actions seemed criminally stupid. But since Joss seems to believe he's taking on patriarchy this season -- enough that he 'needs' a counterpoint with Ms. Rosenberg in "Gingerbread" -- I think it actually makes sense. To my eyes, at least, a lot of real-world honor killings seem irrational and counterproductive even if one assumes the goals of a sociopath. FGM is so irrational, given our current knowledge, that supposedly people have made real progress getting mothers to abandon the practice by pointing out the health risks.

I think the Council may literally consider survival by Slayers a crime worthy of (increased risk of) death, even if the punishment also puts the world at risk. Because any Slayer who lived that long would begin to suspect that she doesn't need the Watchers' Council. And that lack of control, in their eyes, would create a greater existential risk for humanity. The ritual isn't really about testing the heroine's ingenuity. If they wanted to do that they would indeed use puzzles. It's about putting her in her place, reminding her that the Watchers brought her into this world (well, sort of) and they can take her out of it.

I'm speaking from privilege here, but I actually like the way the show deals with the Council in this season and others. Except that unless the writers had some Doylist practical reason, I don't know why gurl qvqa'g hfr gur yngr urnq bs gur Pbhapvy nf gur znva snpr bs gur Svefg Rivy. Gurl pbhyq unir fubja hf Rivy-nf-Ohssl zbecuvat vagb uvz, naq gung jbhyq unir znqr gur flzobyvfz pyrnere (rira ba gur cbvag V guvax gurl jnagrq gb znxr).

Ymfon Tviergh said...

I didn't explain very well, sorry. I was reasoning from the hypothesis that A) hardly any Slayer survives for more than a year or so *anyway*, and the system is set up to cope with this, therefore B) the Council has more invested in keeping control of her than in helping her do her job, and C) a Slayer who lives too long might grow independent enough to start asking some very pointed questions. Hence D) the need for an unquestioningly Council-aligned Watcher in place to rein her in if need be.

Now that I write it down, though, this might be mostly my own not-very-logical headcanon. After all, the world getting overrun by BBFHs would presumably inconvenience the Council as well.

TL,DR: The tradition makes perfect sense, you just have to turn the Council into outright villains! ...okay, you win :-)

Isator Levi said...

TW: Child Labour

"But it does not therefore follow that non-abusive parents are uncommon."

I think it's a bit more akin to the kinds of people who become the overseers of factories or plantations that employ child labour. The recruiting pool there is somewhat biased against people who'll be especially compassionate towards their charges.

I see the Watcher's Council as a body that more specifically screens out people who won't show a callous disregard for the lives of their charges in their recruitment, and can use some heavy indoctrination towards the rest.

In an environment like that, Watchers who'll object to such a life threatening ritual towards their Slayers may very well be uncommon.

I'd note that Kendra's Watcher didn't seem overly concerned with actually going with her to the Hellmouth.

"While they're finding the next one and squatting in her bushes trying not to get bitten by the family dog and praying that this one won't fall for the "your shoes are untied" evisceration trick, the world could end six ways before Sunday.

It just seems epically stupid to risk the entire world"

This is why I really dislike settings where the end of the world is pedestrianized.

You write what you know, and nobody has ever known somebody who rationally knew that the world could very well end at any time if just one fighter fails, so you've got a setting where how the people act is at odds with some of the established realities of that setting.

Men in Black, at least, played the idea that the world is always doomed for laughs, including the idea that the people who serve as the line of defense develop a kind of cynical disregard, even dark humour, towards the idea of the Earth actually being destroyed, which they maintain through active disassociation from anybody who isn't in on the secret (as well as the idea that -their- stringent secrecy is driven by the understanding that the only way for normal life to go on is for everybody to be ignorant of how likely the Earth is to be destroyed).

I don't know, I guess this all comes down to me also thinking that there's some bad writing, just focused on a different spot from you. I guess I just slightly prefer the Watcher's Council that functions as a collection of armchair generals who view the Slayer as a constantly renewable resource that they never want to develop into a threat to their orthodoxy in an endless war, over what I think but am still slightly unsure of is your view or desire for them.

The writing fails us both, I guess. :)

(I, at least, want to hold on to this view of the Watcher's Council because I like what it makes of Giles' character arc, of him finally breaking away from this orthodoxy because it's been driven into him how toxic it is to somebody he actually loves. There's probably a better way to portray this, but I'm not sure what it is, beyond it relying on the world being in a lot less danger so that people have room to be self-centered rather than pragmatic. A better sense of what the Watcher's Council actually fights for, and how they view the Slayer, would also help it.)

Fm said...

@Ana: You are right, I frequently declare as facts things that are just my thoughts. Sorry for that. I am not Whedon, therefore I, of course, can only make assumptions about his views.
With that, here is my general position: it is my personal belief that, from Doylist perspective, a show depicting people getting away with bad things does not automatically declares those things as " not bad".
To me, the badness of things is defined by how they affect others and not by whether perpetrators are called for that. It is also my belief that a show with supernatural elements is allowed to take a stance that supernatural transgressions are always punished while non-supernatural are often not.
Regarding Xander in particular, I wish he would make less shit and would be vary of such a friend, but I do not feel that Buffy not calling Xander out is proof that the show is bad. If Buffy's view of the subject does not correspond to ours, she still can be a strong female charachter.

Isator Levi said...

TW: Indoctrination, child exploitation

"And Giles is supposed to be unusual in balking at drugging and maybe killing the girl he's nurtured for 2 years? Because Watchers are all sociopathic would-be child-killing murderers?"

I think It seems rather depressingly historically evident that people can be reliably indoctrined to do some pretty terrible things to children.

In Great Britan alone, children could still be basically enslaved as few as 150 years ago. The kind of treatment they got in mines, factories, workhouses, debtors' prisons...

And even in the modern day...

I don't want to be detailed about this, so I'll just say that there do seem to be lots of places to draw from where an attitude of "this child's life is expendable, whether you're responsible for them or not".

Isator Levi said...

I think the pills were just normal schizophrenia medication.

Drugs apparently work normally on vampires, so...

Fm said...

The watcher's council is more interested in obedient Slayer than in competent one, which unfortunately happens very often IRL (see Parkinson laws). In this case it is exacerbated by the fact that rogue Slayer is catastrophic whereas dead Slayer just gets replaced. I thought that Giles was not supposed to tell Buffy about the reason of power loss. The idea is, a long living Slayer is more likely to defy the council, therefore the depowering. The idea is, if Slayer dies, a new one gets called, which is no worse than usual situation where a Slayer dies within a year or so, and if she doesn't than, not knowing about the reasons for power loss, she will fear it'll happen again, and thus cling to the councis as she cannot rely on her powers (or so she thinks). Generally the Council pretty much treats Slayers like tools.

Fm said...

Exactly. The Watcher Council's philosophy probably is "Better a dead slayer than a self*-sufficient one" Patriarchy at its worst.

Silver Adept said...

Foreshadowing-without-spoiling: Giles is not an example of how the Watcher Council's members think and act normally. There will be a much better example yet to come.

As for this episode: Why use the Rolling Ball of Doom when three caskets of gold, silver, and lead will do? Surely the Council could create something like a Puzzle Boss that won't go down to the brute force approach, but also won't kill the Slayer outright. (Future knowledge says there's an easy way they could do this, but that's Big Time Spoilers.) Not to mention, yet again, we have an organization of apparently all men who are policing the choices of a woman. Uppity women get smacked in the Buffyverse, and smacked down very hard.

Brin Bellway said...

What was up with the pills? They're used to kill him (wouldn't he have tasted the Holy Water on his tongue before swallowing, but wev), but what were they FOR? Why did he need them mid-fight?

I thought it was a control-through-drug-addiction thing, the Watchers' attempt at safety and containment. (Emphasis on "attempt".)

Ymfon Tviergh said...

Don't worry, I understood that :)

jill heather said...

But Buffy, as someone who clearly is attempting to do her 'job', and even seem more competent than other Slayers, obviously is not someone who the Council should want to get rid of.

What? Buffy has told lots and lots of people about being a Slayer, she refuses to study Slayer lore, she dated one majorly evil vampire, she teamed up with a second one to stop the first one, she generally does things her own way and ignores the council altogether. I cannot possibly imagine why they council *wouldn't* want a more tractable Slayer. (I am not agreeing with them, obviously, and I am not trying to suggest that these particular actions of Buffy's are wrong, but it seems clear to me that the council by now would be perfectly content with a different Slayer.)

I still think that this test makes sense as some kind of tradition that has been changed through the years slowly to lose whatever reasons it first had, but that the council is into never changing things deliberately ever, so it won't get rid of the test. (Also, one assumes that some of the council are Watchers whose Slayers have died, so probably there's a hazing/I went through it so should you aspect as well.) I agree that the test doesn't do anything particularly *constructive*, but not that -- given what we know or later learn about the council -- it doesn't make sense for them to do this within the narrative.

Have you gotten past the irritating Xander episode yet? The final arc of the season is going to begin, and it's a generally fun one.

jill heather said...

I wonder if the DISQUS bot likes or dislikes the show.

Faking a test of the Slayer would make sense, but it's explicitly a real test for both of them. On the one hand the council puts a lot of energy into each Slayer; on the other hand, they're treated as fairly disposable, weapons who eventually run out of bullets and can't be recharged. That said, as pointless as the test is, it does seem like something the council would have done, warped and mutated from whatever was once a good idea.

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