Buffy: Your Fiercely Rambling Buffy Update

[Content Note: Buffy Spoilers, Thoughts of Violence, Copious Swearing]

Recap: Buffy had to kill her boyfriend in order to save the world. Then she ran away for the summer because her mother threw her out, she was expelled from school, and she is suffering from having the worst job ever. Then she came home. This episode was about her family and friends yelling at her. Really.

There is no god, and proof of this is in the fact that Joyce, Xander, Cordelia, and Willow all inexplicably survived to the end of Dead Man's Party, despite all four being very clearly the Big Bad for the episode. Nor were they apparently exorcised of the Asshole Demons infesting their human forms. I am puzzled and frustrated by this apparent departure from the Demon Slaying format of the show. At least when Angel was on the team, he had a soul. These people? Do not.


Husband was amused that I got so viscerally angry during the Party Sequence that I actually started pacing the living room. (This is pretty much unprecedented and possibly reflects the fact that I found this episode to be borderline triggering. Hello, conservative religious upbringing where My Business was automatically Everyone's Business. How nice to see you again. *stabbity*) What was even more upsetting to me is that the episode apparently played straight that everything was All Buffy's Fault, given that the resolution at the end is her taking all the blame forever. Or, at least, if it's not her fault, it's implied that her accepting emotional abuse in order to have peace is condoned by the writers in order to service the show.

Basically, at this point, I love Buffy so very much, and I'm perfectly okay with anyone and everyone else dying in a fire (minus possibly Giles, who was notably the only person in this episode who both did not blame Buffy for her perfectly reasonable response to having the worst, most stressful job ever and attempted to work with her on a level appropriate to her emotional need right now, and isn't that a sad, sad fact that "doesn't actively emotionally abuse Buffy because he's not SO selfish that he can't see that she's obviously suffering and has a job that would give most people PTSD" is worthy of goddamn cookies at this point. THAT IS HOW LOW WE HAVE SUNK.).

P.S. Did anyone else note that despite the fact that Willow et. al. knows Angel regained his soul and that Buffy must have killed him anyway, no one brought up that Buffy must have had a hard time killing her soul-restored boyfriend? Haha, and it was SUPER FUN when Xander basically told her it was all her fault for dating a "demon" and that "most girls don't hop a Greyhound over boy troubles". Haha, that is really just the super awesome culmination of all Xander's constant every-episode policing of Buffy's love-life and aggressing against her for failing to make her pussy available for his use. Great! What a great character! FUCK YOU, XANDER HARRIS, AND FUCK THE FACT THAT I CAN ALREADY TELL THAT YOU WILL VERY PROBABLY END UP IN THAT VAGINA BECAUSE YOU SMELL LIKE ROSS GELLER. That whole bit in Phases where Buffy hugs you because she's hurting over Angel and your response is how complicated your life is because you have Important Pantsfeelings just sickens me because it tells me that the writers think expressing your Grand Passion for Buffy is more important than having you express whoa, crap, someone I care about is hurting and that is awful because, let's face it, you only care about Buffy in the way that I care about my plate of fettuccine alfredo. Which is to say that you don't care because you aren't her friend, you're just someone who wants to own her.

P.P.S. Hey, remember last episode when Joyce blamed Giles for Buffy being gone because Joyce has a martyr complex the size of the Grand Canyon? And notice how she can't cope with the fact that she threw her own daughter out of the house, blabbed gossip about her daughter to her book club without ensuring that they wouldn't taunt Buffy or repeat the gossip indiscriminately (and who I would bet anything is acting as a feedback loop for I Didn't Do Anything Wrong Joyce Summers, based on how Pat passive-aggressively gets up in Buffy's grill both times they meet about how hard Joyce has had things without knowing anything about Buffy's side of the situation, on top of it being not her business to insert herself like that, but really, why should I be surprised anymore at Joyce Summers involving third parties in an attempt to shame Buffy, since she's already done it at least twice already), and is now in this episode telling Buffy that it's her fault she got expelled (for killing Kendra, who was Buffy's friend and OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS HORRIBLE WOMAN TO JUST DROP THAT CASUALLY IN LIKE THIS WHAT WHAT WHAT WHUT) because she made "bad choices" and has to live with the consequences, all of which underscores that Joyce hasn't grokked that being the Chosen One isn't something Buffy has any control over?

Now, you see, if I found out my daughter was a vampire slayer, and I wanted to find her and bring her back, I'd be actively talking to that Giles guy to find out all the stuff I don't know about my daughter so I could maybe be able to actually guess where she would have gone. (For all Joyce knows, there's a Vampire Slayer Academy in Baltimore.) But no, fuck that, better to just passive-agressively blame Giles, whine to my book club, sit at home wishing things would change, and then honestly admit that, huh, my life wasn't better just because my daughter came home WITHOUT CARRYING THROUGH ON THAT THOUGHT AND REALIZING YOUR LIFE ISN'T MAGICALLY BETTER BECAUSE YOU ARE THE PROBLEM WITH YOUR LIFE. YOU. NOT BUFFY. YOU YOU YOU.

P.P.P.S. Here is an image, along with words that I yelled at Husband tonight.

"I am a Vampire Slayer which means that I was born bound to a life I didn't choose, fated for a career I don't want, can never have a normal life, and must watch the people I love turn away from me in fear or die horrible deaths at the hands of those who hate me. I must live a dual life, and patrol the streets restlessly at night, for I am convinced that every life taken by a vampire or demon is a life that I am ultimately to blame for. In order to save the world, I gave up everything I held dear: I was evicted from my home, I was turned out by my family, I was expelled from school, I saw the only girl who could ever understand me die because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time in an attempt to save the lives of my friends, and I was forced to kill the only man I have ever loved.

I am crying because the few people in my life who actually know about the curse I live under and the sacrifices I have had to make are -- the people whose opinions matter to me because they are the only ones who know anything about my "real" life -- are emotionally abusing me and psychologically manipulating me. One is my mother, who threw me out of my home after repeatedly making it an unsafe place for me, who told me that I'd made bad choices in my struggle to save the world from encompassing evil, who confided in a near-stranger that her life is harder with me in it, and who is now yelling at me. One is my best girl friend, who has been avoiding me, who refused to talk to me, who blamed me for not listening to her talk about her living boyfriend because I was mourning my dead one, and who is now yelling at me. And one is my best boy friend, who has never said anything but hurtful and unkind words about my boyfriend (the one who suffered pain and grief in order to protect me and my friends) not because he cared about me as a person, but because he cares about me as a walking vagina, which further confirms that my value to the people around me is wrapped up not in Who I Am but rather in What I Do For Them. And who is now yelling at me."

P.P.P.P.S. Being the Chosen One isn't what is going to mess up Buffy. It's having these people as friends and family. I mean, for fuck's sake, the actual, literal demons in this series treat each other better. Demons make better friends and family than the "good guys"! What. The. Fuck.

P.P.P.P.P.S. Oh my god, I did a quick Google and I cannot get over the fact that there exist people who like Joyce in this episode and think she's right for not "let[ting] her daughter off the hook". My god, can I really be the only one who sees this show as stewing in toxic abuse of horrible triggeryness? My god, my dog, my odg.


Ana Mardoll said...

Also note: Tonight's episode of Buffy also had a Gund bear that I owned as a teenager. That combined with the Spaghettios thing and the fact that Joyce looks a *lot* like my mother is starting to creep me out a little.

At least I can take refuge in the fact that Sarah Michelle-Gellar and I look nothing alike, ha.

Laura Morrigan said...

Yeah, I was really mad with everyone in this episode too, I thought they were really harsh to Buffy. At the end of the season before, Joyce basically kicked Buffy out, and then she was surprised when she didn't come home? On the other hand, I can see my mum reacting waaaay worse than Joyce did if I had run away and come home again as a teen. And she would never have let me to to The Bronze either! A club? With BOYS? Lol.

But yeah, I spend this whole episode angry when I watch it. Except the bit where Joyce's annoying friend randomly dies which kind of amuses me, as does the way Joyce totally gets over it in an instant and never mentions her again.

But yeah, I know her marriage broke up and all, but her whole attitude seems to be 'poor me' instead of 'poor buffy'. "Oh my daughter actually having to constantly SAVE US ALL and then just be told she is a bad child by everyone, including the school, and never getting thanks is messing her up, and hence messes up my life. Oh dear, poor.me! What a bad child I have!"

Silver Adept said...

Unfortunately, the best analogue for how BtVS proceeds is...Dante's Divine Comedy. Right now, we're firmly in Inferno, and we're past the gate that was the last place to turn back. The only way is forward, and the sins only get worse the further along you go. By then end of the series, we'll make it to Purgatorio, but I don't think we ever make it to Paradiso.

My relevant discussions at this point all require spoiler knowledge. ROT13 follows:

Gurer'f fgvyy gur ovt junzzl jurer Wblpr qvrf, yrnivat Ohssl jvgu Qnja gb envfr, Evyrl naq Gur Vavgvngvir tnfyvtugvat ure, Ohssl qlvat naq orvat erfheerpgrq ol Jvyybj, bayl sbe hf naq Jvyybj gb svaq bhg gung fur jnf va Cnenqvfr, univat pbzcyrgrq ure gnfx ubabenoyl, Gnen qlvat frafryrffyl, juvpu jerpxf Jvyybj rira zber, naq gur snpg gung Qnja vf onfvpnyyl n oeng jvgubhg haqrefgnaqvat be tvivat na vapu gb gur pvephzfgnaprf fur naq Ohssl ner va. Vg'f yvxr Wbff zbqryrq Ohssl bss bs gur cebgntbavfg sebz sebz Qba'g Lbh Qner Ernq Guvf, Zef. Qhacuerl sbe gur fgergpu nsgre Wblpr qvrf.

Ohssl tbrf guebhtu nyy bs guvf onfvpnyyl jvgubhg fhccbeg sebz ure sevraqf, va nqqvgvba gb gur jubyr Fynlvat guvat, juvyr cebivqvat fhccbeg gb gurz va gurve eryngvbafuvc gebhoyrf. Fcvxr vf npghnyyl gur zbfg fhccbegvir punenpgre gung Ohssl unf, naq ur'f fhccbfrq gb or n fbhyyrff inzcver (jryy, hagvy gur cbjre bs ybir fraqf uvz bhg vagb gur qrfreg gb trg uvf onpx).

Your health and well-being comes first, Ana.

Ana Mardoll said...

Aw, shucks, thanks.

I'm in it to win it. Strangely, I'm having Thought Conference lately about the abuse that is Joyce combined with the abuse that is Ma and Pa Wilder, but I don't know what will shake out in post form.

Ana Mardoll said...

Convergence. Not conference.

Damned auto-correct.

Ana Mardoll said...

The funny thing is, so many people on Google take Joyce letting Buffy go to the Bronze as evidence that she is a nice mom.

But, really, it fits just as well into a pattern of Ignore, Then Oppress abuse. Which is pretty much in the top three of common parenting abuse models.

Letting Buffy go out is only "healthy" if other healthy things happen around that in context. Otherwise, if it's surrounded by toxic, it is part of the toxic. That's pretty much how emotional abuse WORKS.

Or to use other words, if my husband doesn't talk to me for an hour, it matters whether we're playing video games and happy with each other versus whether I cooked dinner wrong and he's "punishing" me with silence. CONTEXT FOR ACTIONS MATTER, PEOPLE ON GOOGLE.

(Not saying YOU were saying that. Just had a neuron trigger in my brain after reading your comment.)

Brin Bellway said...

Your thoughts are getting together to talk, share ideas, and dress up as fictional characters. (No wait, that's conventions. Never mind that last bit, then.)

Mary Ellithorpe said...

I have a hard time re-watching most of the episodes because of the blatant emotional and mental abuse Buffy's mother and Xander put her through. I'm surprised she was still on speaking terms with either of them. I wouldn't have been. (I'd give specifics, but it's your first time watching, and I refuse to give Spoilers.) But still, Her most healthy relationship (in my opinion...) was with Angel (Which I find kinda sad, because he's guilty of some pretty bad emotional/mental abuse of Buffy as well.) because he was the only one (other than Kendra) who could really get her. (No offence to Giles, but personally, I think there is a HUGE difference between "Watcher" and "Slayer".)

Lady Viridis said...

Lrnu, V syng-bhg ershfr gb jngpu orlbaq frnfba sbhe orpnhfr V'ir ernq rabhtu fcbvyref naq urneq rabhtu qrfpevcgvbaf gb xabj vg'f cerggl zhpu na raqyrff cnenqr bs zvfrel (rfcrpvnyyl frnfba fvk!) naq gura ng gur raq, lbh xabj, gur gbja yvgrenyyl rkcybqrf be fbzrguvat. V'ir frra n srj rcvfbqrf urer naq gurer, naq juvyr gurl jrer fbzrgvzrf vagrerfgvat, V qba'g guvax V pbhyq fhfgnva jngpuvat gung zhpu zvfrel va beqre.

Gur xvpxre sbe zr jnf jura zl sevraq, na nivq sna, rkcynvarq gb zr ubj, nsgre Ohssl unf pbzr onpx sebz gur qrnq naq vf ubeevoyl qrcerffrq, naq nyy ure sevraqf unir nonaqbarq ure orpnhfr gurl'er jenccrq hc va gurve bja ceboyrzf--nsgre nyy gurfr guvatf naq zber, Tvyrf hc naq yrnirf. Orpnhfr gung jbhyq or orggre sbe Ohssl guna fgvpxvat nebhaq naq urycvat ure naq cbffvoyl tvivat ure FBZR fhccbeg gb jbex guebhtu ure vffhrf. V jnf arire rira nyy gung nggnpurq gb Ohssl nf n punenpgre, ohg V qba'g guvax V pna jngpu gung. Fb nf sne nf V'z pbaprearq, gur fubj jnf bire nsgre frnfba sbhe.

depizan said...

Yes! This is why I don't like Joss Whedon (well, one of the reasons. actually, no I think both of the reasons are in there) even though he's supposedly awesome and writes great dialogue and thinks he's a feminist. Actually, I should clarify. Joss Whedon may be a great person (I wouldn't know, I've never met him) but I do not like the fiction he writes. It's best when somebody fucks with his Great Idea, as in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie.

I watched Buffy the show when it was originally on. I kind of lost it somewhere around the whole Angel going evil mess and only watched intermittently thereafter for Oz (because he was cute and about the only Scooby who didn't seem to turn into a raging asshole at a moments notice, possibly because he didn't talk much). I don't actually find it fun to watch a show about someone's life sucking beyond all suckage because they have a horrible, thankless job and are surrounded by people who only make their life worse. I do not know why Joss Whedon thinks this is entertaining, but I don't get off on people's suffering. Blargh.

MotherDemeter said...

I am the sort who somewhat appreciates the emotional journey(s) that Buffy goes through. Sometimes the shittiness is too true to life, and doesn't come with a clarification that this isn't how things should be. I actually enjoy the later seasons more (in general), despite the fact that they do get more depressing.

Gb zr, fgvyy, gur nofbyhgr jbefg guvat Ohssl'f sevraqf qvq jnf frnfba 7 jura gurl xvpxrq ure bhg bs ure bja ubhfr naq qrpvqrq gb sbyybj Snvgu. Vg znqr ab frafr naq ernyyl whfg znqr zr jvfu gur ybg bs gurz jbhyq qvr ubeevoyl. NSGRE SHPXVAT RIRELGUVAT NER LBH FREVBHF? Rfcrpvnyyl nsgre nyy fur jrag guebhtu orpnhfr bs gurz oevatvat ure onpx gb yvsr jura fur jnf ng crnpr naq nyy gur genhzn gung pnhfrq ure. Ohg fur sbetvirf gurz.

Anyway, I think this is an episode i saw differently when I was young than I do now. I was still mad at the characters, but not to the same degree, because it made sense to me that her mom would be like that. I never was a Joyce fan, though I didn't hate her either. I get the feeling Joss didn't really know what to do with her character, like he couldn't think of what someone would actually do if their kid was the Slayer so he relies on the typical high school parent tropes. but as you say, context matters a lot.

I was definitely ignored/ supressed as a teen with a big emphasis on ignore. I'd go days sometimes without seeing my parents at all, taking care of my brothers and getting them and myself to school. But every once and a while they would notice something and yell at me for it (dying my hair pink - took my mom 3 days to notice, failing a class, etc). Just made me work that much harder to hide my life from them. I hope I remember that when my kids are in their teens so I don't repeat those mistakes.

I think Joyce is meant to be not an ideal parent, but not abusive either, though her character crosses that line frequently - because of mind control/ manipulation natch. I do wish the show acted like those actions still matter to the person going receiving it even though the person being controlled can't help it. It is something the show does a couple of times, but not consistently.

Spike and Buffy are the only ones who made me keep watching the show :)

Kristy said...

iFor what it's worth...

While I believe you that some internet denizens sympathize with Joyce in this episode, most of the folk I know understand that this is, in fact, a low point in these characters' relationships with Buffy. They are wrong. They are wrong for reasons that maybe make sense, if you accept tha humans aren't perfect and can make grave, hurtful mistakes, but they are still wrong.

One of the reasons I love Buffy is the acceptance that being a decent human being is a constant process of becoming. Xander, for instance, begins the series as a jerk - no argument there. He, arguably, ends it as an out-and-out hero. But the process is slow, it's painful - both for him and for those around him - and there are more than a couple backslides. But... that's realistic. No one is born perfect. And the only way to improve is to make mistakes, lots of them, sometimes ones which hurt you and the people you care about.

And it's the same with all the characters. No one ends the show in the same place where they started. And not all changes are for the best. But to me, all the characters - they're all messily, wonderfully, lovably, frustratingly human. Joyce has moments where she's terrible to Buffy and moments where she's the best mom in the world - and she reaps the repercussions of both, in the complex relationship she later has with her daughter. Two other characters (whom I won't name as you haven't met them yet) reach the end of the show with the question of whether they were ultimately good or evil essentially unanswered.

...Anyway. That's why I love the show. Because even when I hate what the characters do, I recognize that it's what real people, people I can sympathize with and even love despite their flaws, might do in those circumstances.

hf said...

Reminds me of that horrible poisonous webcomic where the author meant us to agree with the mother. Or of Orson Scott Card.

Fair warning: nearly all of Season Sux could have come from Card's pen. It has an episode pointing out that "the actual, literal demons in this series treat each other better," but of course forgets to apply this to a certain *&^%$# character you haven't seen yet.

Laura Morrigan said...

I guess, but in my mind- as a completely over policed teen- some being ignored and actually allowed to go out would have been pretty damn nice! I am surprised other people used this as proof of her being a good mum though, I would have thought there would be other strict parents that would say she shouldn't be allowed to go out at all!

Laura Morrigan said...

I get what you mean, I think Joyce has her good moments, especially later on. I am always torn how to react, because sometimes she says horrible things to Buffy, but often it was because she didn't know the truth, like Buffy being a slayer. And then I think of my strict parenting, and I kind of envy Joyce and Buffy those close moments.

Isator Levi said...

While Joss Whedon has his flaws, I don't think every problem with the depictions in the show can be entirely laid on him, because even though he's the creator and executive producer (and probably has a significant influence over story and character direction), he didn't actually write or direct this episode (or most others).

His influence informs it, but I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt regarding the specifics.

Unless somebody with more insight into the television creative process could inform me of factors suggesting that there's more to put on him than I would understand.

Isator Levi said...

Just to say, the next time I hear somebody whinge about characterisations of Chosen One's who display the least bit of trepidation or unhappiness or anything other than elation at their experience, I shall be quoting extensively from this. {thumbs up}

Ana Mardoll said...

Please note that different people hold creators responsible for created content differently (especially when said creator has multiple things with overlaping themes) and that That's Okay.

Also, Depizan spoke of Whedon in the general over multiple episodes and an overall series direction, and in context of this specific episode I didn't mention him at all. So I would prefer this not turn into a derail as to what percentage of responsibility he bears for this episode, since, best I can tell, that's not been suggested by anyone in this thread.

Ana Mardoll said...

(Also, "benefit of the doubt" is language that usually accompanies accusations of wrong doing. Saying "Bob's creative work handles abuse in a way I cannot stomach" is a statement of individual preference and not an accusation against Bob.

I mention this because this is the second time today it has been suggested that disliking or critiquing a created work is a moral issue, and I'm very uncomfortable with that phrasing.

If we could remove language about morality and aggression from conversations that are about personal preference and individual reactions to pieces of art, I would be very happy. And there would probably be fewer flame wars once people realized criticism wasn't an "attack" to "defend" against.)

Isator Levi said...

That's fair.

Ehh, it's just a bit of stirring from my more contrarian side anyway; -I've- been critical of Joss Whedon artistically in the past, I'm not really sure why something in my head should stir at "I dislike Joss Whedon", except for generically smelling blood in the water.

Oh, another thing that this post has given me cause to consider; being less critical of the other people in cases where relationships of my family members haven't worked out.

Privately, I mean; I don't share such sentiments, but I suspect that if I were to ever encounter said people, I might be aggressive against them in undue ways, and might just have spoken to family members who would more frequently encounter them with tones that might reinforce things that I know nothing about and are none of my business anyway.

So, that needs to be worked on. {nod}

Isator Levi said...

And apologies to Depizan.

Ana Mardoll said...

Decon high fivez in that case; I am always happy when a reaction piece helps to explain Real Life perspectives. :)


Majromax said...


Please, never, ever change[*]. I come here for the super-insightful deconstruction of problematic things that I've either glossed over in days past or never seen in the first place, and I stay for the incredibly funnny snarksplosions.

I mean, for fuck's sake, the actual, literal demons in this series treat each other better. Demons make better friends and family than the "good guys"! What. The. Fuck.
Coming at this from a Doylist perspective, I wonder if it's simply easier to write an ausive, shallow interaction over a supporting, deep one. Since they're the principal characters, we see the many layers of their lives, but it's much... neater?... to have a shallow interaction that goes only skin-deep.

Oh my god, I did a quick Google and I cannot get over the fact that there exist people who like Joyce in this episode and think she's right for not "let[ting] her daughter off the hook".
I have a half-formed thought about how this belies a simple-but-seductive viewpoint of parenting as a "stream of anecdotes" without heed given to the underlying causes, but I'll hold off on expanding for now -- maybe another Buffy post. It's still incomplete, and it doesn't help that my memory of this episode is rather vague.

[*] -- unless it's a self-directed positive change, or one done to actively affirm your mental or physical health. No demands!

Ana Mardoll said...

I have a half-formed thought about how this belies a simple-but-seductive viewpoint of parenting as a "stream of anecdotes" without heed given to the underlying causes

Oh my god. I *LIKE* your half-formed thought. I ... just ... mind ... blown. I'm going to go think on this, if only because the Little House books are VERY episodic in nature.

Beroli said...

I think Joyce is meant to be not an ideal parent, but not abusive either, though her character crosses that line frequently - because of mind control/ manipulation natch.

Spoilers for the Season Two finale episode, and very minor, you-can-guess-it-from-the-post ongoing spoiler:

Lryyvat ng ure qnhtugre gb arire pbzr onpx vs fur yrsg, naq arire npxabjyrqtvat gung fur'q qbar nalguvat jebat, jnf abg gur erfhyg bs zvaq pbageby be znavchyngvba. Vg jnf nyy Wblpr.

Ikkin said...

Just to say, the next time I hear somebody whinge about characterisations of Chosen One's who display the least bit of trepidation or unhappiness or anything other than elation at their experience, I shall be quoting extensively from this.

I suspect that much of the dislike of the Reluctant Hero trope (outside of dislike for specific characters who really don't know how to prioritize their complaints and are more concerned with minor inconveniences than people dying) comes from the fact that it's one of the most common tropes out there... but it's only as common as it is because, reasonably speaking, being the Chosen One would be kind of terrible for the one chosen. Outside of super-sanitized, child-friendly settings, the Chosen One's life tends to be a disaster, and they have every right to be unhappy with that no matter how many cool powers come along with it. (Then again, the hero shouldn't always be the one whose unhappiness is focused on in cases where someone else is the one directly affected... which might be another reason for the dislike of the trope, come to think of it.)

Not to mention, loving the position and the power suggests issues of its own, especially when those things come at a cost to others around the hero. An enthusiastic hero who's humble and empathetic, as heroes are generally expected to be, doesn't make a whole lot of sense -- it takes a certain amount of arrogance and self-centeredness to think being the Chosen One is actually pretty cool, and that tends to come with problems of its own as far as audience reaction is concerned.

Morrigan Alexandros said...

This has always been one of the hardest episode to watch. Buffy's family and so-called friends hardly considered....actually, didn't consider hwhat she was going through at all. It is just so hard to watch cause I want to just grab them by the neck and yell at them. They went through stuff. Yes. But, she has gone through so much more.nthey are there by choice (except maybe Joyce as her mOther and Giles as her watcher). Buffy doesn't have a choice in the matter, this is her destiny. So, they can't gang up on her if at one point she needed a breather.

The only way I can get through this episode is by thinking that they are all coming from a place of fear. Fear of where Buffy was, thinking that she was dead, thinking about what would happen if she didn't come back (the vamps could kill them!).

So, that's how I am going to look at it, for my own piece of kind. Except Zander. He was a jerk, he continued to be a jerk.

Isabel C. said...

I myself kind of hate the reluctant hero archetype, for various reasons. But that's me.

Also, spoilers for later Buffy seasons:

Gur Obql jnf fnq naq nyy, ohg vs V jngpu gur raq bs F2 naq gura gur ortvaavat bs F5, V nz gbgnyyl ba Grnz Oenva Ghzbe. Orpnhfr shpx lbh, Wblpr.

Boutet said...

I'm not going to say that Joyce's reactions are good, she makes a lot of mistakes. She mishandles many situations and treats her daughter quite badly a lot of the time.
But I look at her life and I really don't think very many people would be handling it much better. She had a career and a marriage (that we are not given reasons to think she was unsatisfied with), and a daughter who is well-liked, athletic, has a bright future. Then in a fairly short span of time her daughter becomes violent, evasive, burns down a school building and Joyce is given no explanation for why any of this is happening. Her marriage falls apart. She is forced by the situation to leave her career position, her home, her friends and family and lifestyle for all those years. She has to restart in a strange place with a daughter who has become a stranger. She ends up in a shit-storm of magical violence that she has no context for, no way of understanding. Her daughter begins showing the same sort of worrying behaviour that she was showing before she starting burning buildings down (remember, Joyce still has no context for these actions). Her life is threatened many times, her first romantic foray was with a robot that drugged her, her first close friend is killed and becomes some sort of zombie. Joyce is alone and powerless in a dangerous place that she has no knowledge of. And then BUffy dumps the whole magical paranormal chosen-one-destiny mess in her lap in the middle of an already stressful confrontation between the two of them.
Joyce handled it badly. I can't see anything in her life that could help her to handle it any better than she did.

Ana Mardoll said...

Joyce Summers is not a real person. She is a fictional character. If her writers *realize* that her actions are wrong, they need to portray that in some way, shape, or form.

As far as I'm concerned, they've not yet done that to a level commensurate with the amount of abuse she is heaping on Buffy.

(Please also note that 90% of your comment is not applicable at this point in the chronology because Joyce now does have the framing and the time -- nearly three months' worth -- with which she could reevaluate all Buffy's "strange" actions and Joyce's harmful responses to her daughter. Also note that "abuse" and "mistakes" are not synonyms.)

ETA: Actually, you are factually wrong on several points in the chronology. Buffy doesn't "dump"* the magical mess on Joyce *after* Pat becomes a zombie. You're several episodes off on your timing.

* Also, also, I take issue with your word choice. Buffy doesn't "dump" the facts of the entire world on Joyce. The world is the world. Joyce has failed to notice some VERY obvious things. Then a vampire attacks Joyce, blowing open the masquerade. None of that is Buffy's fault; she can control neither the world nor her mother. She has also tried to convey she is a slayer multiple times only to be jokingly shut down. I am not comfortable with blaming Buffy for the abuse her mother acts out on her.

Ana Mardoll said...

What? She pretty much *had* to run away. She --

No, you know what, I just wrote a whole post about this, so I'll copy and paste. Here is relevant bit:


One major reason why Buffy was so deeply traumatized that she had to escape was that, at the last moment, Angel had his soul restored. While he was confused and frightened and everything that Buffy ever loved, she had to kill him because his death was the only way to save the world. He had opened the gate, and he was the only way to close it.

Buffy couldn't talk to anyone about this because she knew no one would help her and most of them would hurt her. Joyce, Xander, and possibly Cordelia would pretty much rub salt in the wound, given that none of them had ever accepted the body/soul divide that is Buffy-verse vampires. Willow, the most potentially sympathetic, would be emotionally crushed to realize that her attempts to re-soul Angel had actually ended up causing Buffy more pain. Giles would be able to help, but Buffy has always been intensely uncomfortable talking about her romantic life with her middle-aged teacher. Buffy literally had no one to talk to because the people in her life are less interested in comforting her than in getting their own petty opinions on the record. She knows this because they've demonstrated this. So she did the next best thing and just opted out of the conversation entirely until she'd dealt with things on her own.

But here's the other thing: Xander knew that Buffy would be fighting a souled Angel. He was sent to Buffy, by Willow, to tell her that so that. Once he got there, he deliberately chose not to tell Buffy. He didn't want to take the risk that Buffy might draw the fight out, wait for Angel to be resouled, and then reunite with him and continue their relationship. Xander is spiritually (if not legally) guilty of cold-blooded murder as well as forcing his supposed 'best friend' to commit that murder on the only man she's ever loved. And he did this because he "loves" Buffy and wants really, really badly to fuck her. And this is presented as sweet and romantic rather than deeply monstrous.


And this is on top of the fact that her mother *evicted* her. Buffy doesn't have the right to force herself on Joyce. Period. And she doesn't have the obligation to disclose all this -- including her mother's faults which MANY people are uncomfortable doing -- to anyone else. She's a person, not an object.

I am not going to be chill with criticizing a teenage girl for taking necessary physical and emotional space in order to heal herself after one of the most intensely traumatic thing a person can go through. I am also NOT going to be chill with the implication that if someone dies while Buffy is in Poor Girl's Counseling it's *her* fault for not preventing it. If someone dies, it is the fault of the demon who killed them. Not Buffy. Not anyone else.

That sort of victim-blaming is NOT alright with me. *stern look*

Antigone10 said...

I'm not saying that she didn't have the right to leave and have space. If you notice, I said that "Had she been like "I've got to go for awhile", maybe had Giles recommend a good Slayer retreat to hang out for a while, I'm sure they would have understood, and taken up the Slayer slack as best they could."

I'm not saying she had to talk to them about Angel. I'm not saying counselling would have been inappropriate for her to heal. I'm saying she did NOT have the right to leave them and not tell them. She did not have the right to go just "poof" be gone and expect people to not be angry, upset, and betrayed.

Ana Mardoll said...

Also: Fact check time.

But no- she waits until it is literally an apocalypse, can't hide it anymore, and expects her mom to be oh "Oh, that's great honey. I'll make you some cookies" as opposed to "No, stay here!"

Wrong. (Also: ARGLE BARGLE FUCK. The NEXT PERSON who implies that Buffy picked that episode to tell her mother is going to get a VERY STERN LOOK INDEED.) Buffy didn't "wait until the apocalypse" to tell Joyce. She didn't choose that moment to *tell* Joyce anything. It was forced out because a vampire killed Kendra and then attacked Joyce.

(I also remember, but cannot find, a conversation where Giles talked her out of telling Joyce. I may have hallucinated it, but if I didn't then she was deferring to his expertise.)

Was she possessed? Was she compelled to leave and then was murdered? Stuck in an alternate dimension? They had no idea.

Wrong. Buffy left a farewell note for her mother, so Joyce -- and therefore Giles -- knows she's alive and not possessed.

You are either misremembering or making stuff up, but either way it's very frustrating as a conversation device.

Ana Mardoll said...

She has the right to take whatever space she needs. Women do not "owe" people a status update, particularly people who (in the case of her mother) evicted her and (in the case of Xander) contrived to make sure she had to kill her boyfriend.

You are blaming a victim of serious emotional trauma for not reacting the "right way". You need to stop that right now, because it's a huge problem. Buffy did not do anything except self-care, she didn't hurt anyone, and she doesn't deserve to be blamed for retreating to a safe space FROM THE VERY PEOPLE WHO HURT HER.

I mean, you DO realize you are saying that a victim of abuse should have told her abuser where she was going? Or should have trusted that information with a third-party who could have been LEGALLY OBLIGATED to tell her abuser where she was going? Buffy is a minor; Joyce could *easily* blackmail Giles into divulging Buffy's whereabouts.

I just... what the fuck.

Antigone10 said...

All right, I'm going to go re-watch these episodes. I'll trust since you've watched it way more recently than I have. But I thought half the reason that everyone was so worried was they didn't know where she was and if she was okay. I seriously thought I remembered Giles looking for everywhere because he didn't know how she was.

Yes, Giles told her not to tell her mother (and I thought that was stupid then too). But she had to know, and HE had to know, eventually SOMETHING would happen and the truth would come out. No, she didn't choose to tell her mom in the sense that "Oh, this is the perfect time to tell you". If she could have avoided telling her, I'm sure Buffy would have. She was forced to tell her then because she didn't tell her before, when she had time to sit down and explain things.

Ana Mardoll said...

Passion, Season 2, Episode 29:

Buffy: Giles, Angel once told me that when he was obsessed with Drusilla, the first thing h-he did was to kill her family.

Xander: (stops and looks at her) Your mom.

Buffy: I know. I'm gonna have to tell her something. (sits on a wall and looks at Giles) The truth?

Giles: (approaches her, waving his finger) No. You-you-you-you can't do that.

Xander: Yeah. The more people who know the secret, the more it cheapens it for the rest of us.

Buffy: But I've gotta tell her something. I've gotta do something. Giles, Angel has an all-access pass to my house, and I'm not always there when my mother is. I can't protect her.

Giles: (flustered) I told you I will find a-a spell.

Buffy: What about *until* you find a spell?

Cordelia: Until then, you and your mother are welcome to ride around with me in my car.

Giles: Buffy, I-I understand your concern, but it's imperative that you keep a level head through all this.

Buffy: That's easy for you to say. You don't have Angel lurking in your bedroom at night.

Giles: I know how hard this is for you. (gets a look from Buffy) All right, I don't. But as the Slayer, you don't have the luxury of being a slave to your, your passions. You mustn't let Angel get to you. No matter how provocative his behavior may become.

Buffy: So what you're basically saying is, 'just ignore him, and maybe he'll go away'?

Giles: (exhales) Yes. Precisely.


Becoming Part 2 was Episode 34, so that was five episodes before. So no one gets to blame Buffy for not telling Joyce anymore because what the fuck.

Zadi said...

De-lurking here to say thank you, Ana, for your ridiculously insightful deconstructions.

I watched all of Buffy years ago, and loved most of it. Of course, I completely missed all of the deeply problematic themes and recurring behaviors that you're so eloquently pointing out. And now, one cannot un-see the Matrix. I kind of mourn for the innocence (read: stupid naïveté) with which I used to enjoy the Buffyverse... but being informed and aware is better.

Re-watching it now with Husband. We've just started Season 2. The only episode he actually liked so far was 'The Pack.' After reading your deconstruction of that one, well, eep. Not quite ready to take on that conversation, but I'll get there.

Hoo boy, is he going to get an earful of commentary from here on out.

Ana Mardoll said...

He was looking for her, because he didn't know where she was or how she was (in detail). But she did leave a note for her mother, and they do know she was alive when she left.

I think it is MASSIVELY FUCKED UP that you see a sixteen year old defer to the experience of a forty year old on a question that may genuinely end up with her mother DEAD (if Joyce knew about the vampires, she might try to get involved and could be killed trying to protect Buffy instead of being safe in the house) and your reaction is to... blame the sixteen year old. Wow.

I guess one more reason why it rocks to be male in our society; blame for your actions will fall on the nearest pretty young woman. ROCK ON. *facepalm*

Ana Mardoll said...

Also, point of fact: No matter how irritated you are with Buffy, nor how justified someone might or might not be in being mad at her, that STILL does not excuse emotional and psychological abuse.

There's not an Abuse Exception Card for people who abuse people we're pissed off at.

Antigone10 said...

Thank you for the exact quote. I shall meditate on what you said before responding at any length.

Ana Mardoll said...


I know most viewers hate the masquerade because it's tiresome, but from Giles' point of view, there's sense to it. Joyce has been safe thus far, since the majority of vampires seem only interested in prowling the park and Joyce stays home at night which is mystically protected. If she suddenly knows who Buffy is, she may start following her around on hunts, which could easily end with her dead. (Giles is risking his life every time he goes with.)

And what if Joyce dies? Or is fed up with this Hellmouth stuff and decides to move? Buffy can't tell her no; she's a minor. She can't just up and go live with Giles. AT BEST, Buffy would have to go on the lam as a missing person, and she'd either have to get a new Watcher or meet Giles secretly and at peril (and what if Giles is accused of kidnapping her?). All this is going to mean more people dead while they try to work out logistics.

Because -- bizarrely -- only Angel targets the Slayer's family, ignorant!Joyce is just as safe as anyone else in Sunnydale and in less of a position to actively obstruct slaying work. Yes, later Joyce took it all in stride (or so I'm told) but ask yourself: What if she HADN'T? Well, the world would literally end. That's where Giles is coming from, I would imagine.

As for Buffy, Giles is so forceful in that scene and he's the one with the experience that it's very easy to understand why she defers to him. When she majorly deviates from his tutelage, things often go wrong PLUS she's cowed because the last impulsive thing she did (Sleep With Angel) basically ruined her life. She's in Follow Advice mode, and it's not right to blame her for that.

depizan said...


Congratulations, Giles, you and Yoda are now tied for worst and most nonsensical advice to a worried person ever.

You want your Slayer to keep a level head? Protect her mother, you asshat. Let her tell her mother and arrange for her mother to be somewhere safe. This is just fucked up beyond words.

Also, Joyce kicked Buffy out. Why do people keep saying she left? What was she supposed to do, camp on the front lawn?

Ana Mardoll said...

Also, Joyce kicked Buffy out. Why do people keep saying she left? What was she supposed to do, camp on the front lawn?


And it would have gone over really well given that she's been wanted by the police twice (Ted, Kendra), supposedly burned down a school gym, and is generally believed to be a delinquent. I'm sure camping on the lawn would have worked out REALLY WELL for Buffy.

depizan said...

I'm less inclined to let Giles off, given that Joyce wasn't safe from Angel in her home and they all knew that. At this point, the masquerade wasn't going to protect her and they really needed to take serious steps to do so.

Telling Buffy don't worry about it, but not telling her they're going to protect her mom is horrible.

Ana Mardoll said...

I dunno. If it were ME, yes, please tell ME. I could handle it. Joyce? The minute that Joyce finds out (because Angel told) that Bufy had sex with Angel, Joyce FREAKS OUT and starts verbally tearing into Buffy.

Now, me, I would have handled that differently. Daughter says, "Mom, I broke up with a guy because he Got Weird" and then guy shows up and is threatening and mentions sex, *IF* I believed him about The Sex, I still would be all "Huh, well done Daughter Girl for getting out when he got weird after The Sex." (Someone -- Melissa McEwan? -- has noted online that abuse can start after relationship milestones. Like sex. Or marriage.)

But Joyce COMPLETELY blows off the very real danger that is Angel to go on and on and on about The Sex, even after Buffy says they used protection. I mean, Angel the stalker who is dangerous and needs dealing with is completely forgotten because OMG YOU HAVE HAD A PENIS IN YOUR VAGINA OMG OMG OMG. RED ALERT. STAR TREK KLAXONS.

That ... kind of tells me that Joyce and I process information differently. I can honestly see her responding to "Angel is a vampire" in, well, exactly the manner that she ended up doing. Get out of my house; don't ever come back if you're not willing to give up Slaying. What happens then? I dunno.

I guess I can say that I see Giles point without condoning or condemning it. The world they live in is just so brutally horrible and Joyce is just as likely to die from a random sea monster or preying mantis as she is from Angel, so....? Maybe it's difficult for me to weigh these things in a show where 1-4 people die every week. :(

Boutet said...

Wasn't my intention to blaim Buffy. Just trying to look from a different perspective.
Sorry about the timeline messup! It's been several years since I watched it

But from what you say about "not a real person" as your perspective then my point is entirely meaningless to you anyway. I was trying to sympathize with a person who is put in a bad situation. Your argument seems to be more with the writers, and that's not a case I"ll argue.

Isator Levi said...

It's my view that Giles himself is hidebound at least partially due to his own experiences in the extremely secretive, conservative and patriarchal Watcher's Council (something that has been already hinted at when he talks about how he once had different personal ambitions but deferred to tradition, and his own very bad experiences with deviating from the plans of his elders, and is made much more explicit when we start seeing other Watchers), and so his impulse is to thoughtlessly go along with and encourage the orthodoxy.

Without giving too much away, certain factors will cause that attitude to start changing, somewhat.

Isator Levi said...

A Watchers' Council which, I'll note, appears by account and example to quite favour the position of locating Slayers long before the mantle passes to them, so that they can be deprived of contact with family or friends and brought up in an environment where their sole concern will be with upholding the unchosen duty of being the Slayer and fighting on their behalf.

Giles is risking his life when he goes out on patrol with Buffy; the hierarchy that commands him (and, implicitly, would expect him and Buffy to move about according to their designs if she was living anywhere other than a constant hotbed of demonic activity), is not.

This is the tradition that has trained and conditioned Giles.

chris the cynic said...

Trigger Warning: Abusive Mother, Drug use, having to face the possibility of death by freezing.

At the end of the season before, Joyce basically kicked Buffy out, and then she was surprised when she didn't come home?

On my blog I talked about the worst Saturday ever, some of that was due to my sister, some to my father, but the lion's share falls on my aunt. Not going to talk about her part in that day. Going to talk about her history. If you've read the post on that day you already know this.

The source of much of the family conflict centers over a property, including a house, that my mother and aunt both inherited half of. There was no division, every part of the property, every blade of grass, belongs to both of them. Which means that doing anything requires them both to agree. If they don't agree then the status quo is maintained.

Through a combination of trickery and outright lying my aunt originally set it up so that, immediately after my grandmother's death, her eldest daughter living there was the status quo. Meaning there was nothing my mother could do to get her out. My mother never made a secret of the fact that she wanted my aunt's daughter out, and many months later, after delivering Christmas presents to the girl in question (she may not have wanted her living there, but family still gets Christmas presents), my mother came home to a moral quandary.

My aunt had finally said that she wanted her out too, meaning they could get my aunt's daughter out. My aunt had said it to the police, meaning they were just waiting for my mother to sign off on it. Aunt was asking, indeed begging, that my mother do just that. But it was Christmas time. In MAINE. It was pretty damned cold.

In the end my mother decided to go to the police and see if she could figure out what was up (which is how we initially learned that the house had become the Heroin Dealing Capital of Cape Elizabeth) and finally decided to sign off on evicting my cousin since she'd never wanted her there in the first place and so many other reasons. But she did this with trepidation, because it was pretty damned cold and she didn't know if my cousin would find a place to stay.

I have since learned that my aunt didn't actually choose the time to kick her daughter out, she was pressured by a third party into doing it then, but that does not change the glee with which my aunt looked at the timing. You see my aunt lived in Texas at the time (still does), a place that does not have a reputation for being pretty damned cold, and she thought that when her daughter was kicked out on the street and forced to come face to face with the possibility of death by freezing, it would cause her to come to Texas (aunt offered to pay for the journey.)

This was in part a ploy to break her and her boyfriend up (the offer didn't include the boyfriend) and partly a ploy to reassert control. She wanted her daughter to come crawling back, figuratively if not literally.

She and her daughter are clearly still on speaking terms, they clearly still are somehow able to get along enough to be a family, but one thing remains true to this day: Her daughter never came back. No matter what her living arrangements or financial situation, no matter how much it would have been easier for her to go and live in Texas with my aunt, my cousin NEVER left Maine. She never came crawling back.

Maybe sometimes the, "Kick them out so they'll come back" ploy works, but it comes as no surprise to me when it doesn't.

chris the cynic said...

Faith will eventually become one of my favorite characters, but the journey she takes to get there is ... yeah.

Ana Mardoll said...

I basically tweeted something along the lines of: "A sex-positive and food-positive Slayer? I can't imagine that she'll turn out to be evil or disturbed!" But, yeah, I like her. But the fact that I like her makes me uneasy, if that makes sense. ;)

chris the cynic said...

I saw that tweet, in fact. The facebook copy of it at least. I saw it when it suddenly occurred to me, "The phone lines are jammed but I can tell my sister where the earthquake was via facebook," which is what we had been talking about when the phone lines cut out. Turned out to be pointless because by then she had figured it out and posted it to facebook herself.

So, trying not to spoil anything beyond what's already been done, but you know your fiction.

Silver Adept said...

Unfortunately, that unease is well-founded. chris is correct. Faith turns out to be quite awesome. But, goodness, me, the way the writers decide to get her there...

Ana Mardoll said...

Ha. Is it more or less depressing to say that it's more that I know my culture? :P

(This can actually lead to some weird unexpected trope aversions when you run into, say, a horror movie where a sexually active girl ISN'T doomed to die from Teh Sex.)

SOMEDAY in SOME MEDIA* there will be a food-positive/sex-positive girl where food and sex aren't metaphors for her lack of self-control.

* There probably already is, both inside and outside my culture, but I'm rarely exposed to it. The last Food Porn I read was in Farmer Boy ... before that ... I'm not sure. The "Last Chance To Eat" autobiography, maybe.

I've recently been wondering how much of the paranormal thriller genre (you know the ones; the cover girl always wears leather and usually has a tattoo) is in response to Buffy in the way that the paranormal romance genre is in response to Twilight. I never really thought about it, but it seems to logically flow, based on when I remember it starting to emerge........?

depizan said...

I'd be okay with Giles saying something along the lines of: "We can't tell your mother, she might do something that would put her at greater risk. So we will [fill in Joyce protection measures here] instead." What pushes it into Yoda-level WTF is that his response is "we need you focused, so ignore the problem and so will we."

While I'm not thrilled with the masquerade idea because I don't think it's fair to not tell people about risks that effect them and, of course, there's the lying part, the fact that Slayers are/start out not yet adults does add some wrinkles, as does the fact that Joyce is not a reliable person. So I'm more understanding of not telling her than I might otherwise be. Not protecting her, though? Not. Okay.

Ana Mardoll said...

OH! I see, we're talking about the words he used and the lack of protection in the case of Angel, not the masquerade itself. YES. Yes, 100%, completely. Sorry, had to switch gears from where I had been, which was Defending Why Buffy Didn't Tell Joyce. Sorry about that. Yes. The creepiest part, for me, was the "slave to your passions" part. Because being genuinely concerned about an established threat, talking over ways to minimize that threat, and taking preventative action against that threat is JUST LIKE lacking self-control. What. Really, that whole piece just comes off as very ... well, Yoda was a good example, actually.

I'm sure he has Reasons, but those Reasons don't really matter to the person getting the crappily-packaged advice and being pressured to protect her mother with sub-optimal tools at hand. (And, of course, it's never explained why Angel doesn't henceforth just jump Joyce at the supermarket, but "Why Don't You Just Shoot Him" is an ongoing theme of keeping the drama going. (Husband finds the Angel stuff fairly contrived and thinks it's funny that I cry at the end of every episode. SHUT UP, ANGEL JUST CAME BACK ALL CONFUSED AND IT'S SAD, OKAY.))

jill heather said...

Yeah, I've been open about not disliking Joyce, but not in this episode, where I think she hits her low. Sure, Buffy didn't act perfectly, but then they all blamed her and she just . . . accepted it, like no one else had done anything wrong so it was all her fault. Even Willow, who I think didn't do anything wrong (unlike Joyce and Xander -- but I don't remember exactly), blamed Buffy entirely, though since Willow is something like 16 at the time, it's most understandable for her. It was weird and upsetting, and bizarre when I saw people who agreed that everyone else acted reasonably. (Understandably, yes, but not reasonably.)

Xander was hero-by-authorial-fiat, maybe, but he's still a jerk.

I didn't like Faith. I also was resentful that they brought Angel back, which I think lessened the impact of season 2's ending.

And I think Angel didn't just kill Joyce because he was into psychological torture, so first we'd need to make a big threat, etc etc, like Willow and the fish.

depizan said...

Yeah, framing her reasonable concern and desire to take precautions as being a "slave to your passions" was... was... there are no words. Well, other than: congratulations, Giles, you are a Yoda-level dick.

Isabel C. said...

Yeah, there's Masquerade Stuff that doesn't quite make sense, really. But if we accept the masquerade stuff as necessary...she can't tell Joyce because she can't tell people because of Reasons. (One could argue that Joyce wouldn't have believed "vampires" in any other situation.)

Also, I would be much more annoyed about the abandoning-your-duty thing--see previous post re: not having much patience with Refusal of the Call/Ten Minute Retirement/Shinji Fucking Ikari in general--exceeept that, in the S1-S2 summer interval, everyone was just fine with Buffy going off to spend the summer in LA with her dad. Nobody died; the world didn't end; etc. And, indeed, as we see, there are plenty of demons elsewhere, there's also a Hellmouth in Cleveland, and so forth.

So there's actually nothing that says Buffy leaving Sunnydale makes her responsible for people getting eaten, especially since the threat she knows of has been pretty emphatically dealt with. All she's responsible for is not being considerate of the feelings of people who (except Giles, for whom she left a note, and Willow, for whom I do feel bad) didn't do anything to deserve this consideration, and fuck those guys.

hf said...

Maybe it's difficult for me to weigh these things in a show where 1-4 people die every week.

I've decided to believe that Joyce is horribly racist. Because something must keep drawing white people to Sky-high Death Rate Sunnydale. Fear of black people seems like the obvious culprit (aside from mind control, which we never see gur Znlbe or any such person using).

KNicoll said...

Ha! And that's a fine explanation for the common Joss Problem Of Actually Having Actors Of Logically Required Ethnicity On The Set.

Isator Levi said...

It's my view that when we start seeing what other Watchers are like, we're supposed to take it that a lot of the stuff Giles has been basing his advice and actions on are actually bad, and he's actually at his best when he is himself "a slave to his passions".

It's going to come up in... about ten episodes, I think. ;)

(I would think that this doesn't go with the "Deathbed Confession" bit, since Giles has already been shown to have a lot of good points. I think it's just that his flaws will grow increasingly contextualized, as he develops into moving away from them. I'd say that it helps that there are several more seasons after the "confession" for him to grow in.)

Ana Mardoll said...

*sigh* That's probably pretty accurate, actually.


We saw the Faith episode last night, which starts with a black man in a limo rolling up to a fast food place at night and ordering a soda. My FIRST THOUGHT -- beyond "I wonder what kind of monster he'll be" because the music was notably ominous, but I didn't think vampires could consume soda -- was "doesn't he realize Sunnydale is a Sundown Town?" I even expected the soda-guy to say something to warn him, because ... come ON. It's gotta be, there's no other explanation. But no, he didn't.

Of course, white people *can* move to sundown towns without realizing that they're sundown towns because that's how privilege works, but it would make more sense to me if the adults (including Joyce) were aware of it. (Plus, it would explain so much about INCA MUMMY GIRL. The "cultural stereotype" party. The treatment of exchange students like they are rental puppies. The willingness of the parent nations to send their kids to a city with a death rate that is higher than anywhere else on earth.)

Isator Levi said...

Fun fact; Mr Trick -does- know that it's a Sundown Town, and notes as such in disgust.

Ana Mardoll said...

Does he? Is it during the fight scene? He had several lines in the fight scene that neither Husband nor I could hear because of background noise, and I hadn't looked up the transcript yet.

Hmm. All I see in last night's transcript is the "not a haven for the brothers" line which, yeah. Fair enough, but I would prefer something a little more explicit since an astonishing number of white Americans aren't even aware that sundown towns exist. But there I go on my dreamy little tangents. I'm glad they at least said *something*.

(Though, you know, it would have been better to make the show better at that point. No one worth listening to would have been all CONTINUITY! if suddenly there were POC students in background shoots.)

depizan said...

Sunnydale's death rate is a matter of public record.

That raises a weird question: why did Joyce pick Sunnydale? Unless it was a job transfer, you would think she'd have done a bit of research if she was looking for a change of scene for her "troubled" daughter.

Silver Adept said...

I'm inclined to say Sunnydale's official statistics are thoroughly manipulated before being released to the public. Lots of "accidents" that don't have to be reported, or perpetually missing persons later quietly presumed dead, an active media conspiracy explaining away any weirdness one might encounter (like the two newspapermen in Heaven, but covering all the local media). Sunnydale's death rate is probably more like the official unemployment number for the United States - it only counts certain people in certain circumstances to produce a mummer much more easily palatable than the actual one.

Plus, if Joyce, Xander, and Cordelia are the meters by which to get the average person's opinion in Sunnydale, if the vampires stick to killing predominantly minorities, the poor, and women, the town won't care what's going on and will be glad to be rid of the [racist slur], [classist slur], and those [misogynist slur].

Ana Mardoll said...

Though that would make sense, I'm fairly sure the death rate has been canonically mentioned in the show. Certainly Mr. Trick mentions it, though of course he is a vampire, but also we see a lot of gag newspapers mention the deaths in the series.

(I do think the victim blaming probably happens though, so good idea there.)

Really, I don't understand why there aren't more Watchers in Sunnydale. Having some on the police force, coroner, media, etc. staff would help Buffy immensely.

Silver Adept said...

The Watcher Council doesn't seem to care all that much about stopping the evil in any permanent manner as it is about maintaining the status quo about the Slayer at this point in the series. The final disposition of such is spoilers, though, so you can hope that they will change, if you want to.

I wonder whether Sunnydale has a large amount of rest and retirement homes and communities. Institutions like that would make for a high death rate, but an easily explainable one - It's the place where people come to die. Which has a great double-entendre meaning as well, hiding its true nature as a place with a Hellmouth opening.

Niala Wesley said...

How far have you gotten watching Faith? I'm guessing not that far if you still like her since she has violated Buffy in ways worse than everything that Xander has ever done to Buffy. There was something she did in S4 that sickened me so much I could NEVER have anything but disdain for her character. It even made me like the Buffyverse fandom less since most fans seemed to think what she did was no big deal, think Buffy had no right to be so angry about it, or to even TAKE FAITH'S SIDE and have nothing but sympathy for her while she was doing the heinous acts.

Ana Mardoll said...

You're guessing that I haven't gotten far, so you're posting major spoilers for my benefit?

That's a new and interesting way to piss me off, I guess?

Niala Wesley said...

I think that the weird "slave to your passions" line was supposed to tie in to the poem Angelus was reciting. He considered any strong emotion that didn't make you feel dead inside to be a "passion." Grief is a passion. "the ectasy of grief" Everything from anger to lust are passions. The line still made no sense regarding Buffy since she was being rational, but the line does make sense in regards to Giles. When he charged into the vampire lair to try to murder Angelus it was all about his passion....his consuming hatred and desire for vengeance. Giles became a slave to his passions. So we have Giles acting as if he is the in control one (acting as if Buffy is a slave to her passions and needs him to show her reason) only for him to completely lose control and Buffy to have to explain to Xander why his giving in to revenge is bad "it's going to get him killed" and to have to rescue an ungrateful (due to the passion of grieving, anger) Giles. He was so blinded by his passions that not only did he go on a suicide mission to try to get revenge but he told Buffy "this wasn't your fight!" The only reason (other than the restoration spell) that Angelus had for murdering Jenny was that hurting Buffy's watcher would hurt Buffy. It was All About Buffy. Giles' overwhelming pain was a byproduct of Angelus' quest to psychologically torture Buffy.

Niala Wesley said...

Okay, so far I've only seen 3 out of 6 of the Star Wars movies. Episodes 4-6. Can someone explain how Yoda was a dick?

depizan said...

Ah...well... let's just say that he handles a situation in one of the prequels very poorly. I'm not sure if you want spoilery details or not.

Niala Wesley said...

I never considered that is why Joyce might have added Sunnydale to her list of possible towns to move to with her "troubled" teenage daughter. I always assumed (prior to reading the prequel graphic novels in which there is a brief scene of Joyce picks 4 towns,writing down the names of 4 towns, placing the names in a bowl and having Buffy pull out one and that is where they'll move) she chose Sunnydale because the houses weren't that expensive and the schools probably weren't that picky with the high mortality rate and lots of weekly horror.

You may be right that it was a factor. Joyce mentioned many times that she wanted them to have a fresh start, keep Buffy away from the wrong element/kinds of people, for Buffy to want frat boys and keggers, etc. Joyce made it clear she thought it was inevitable that Buffy would get into trouble again and that she had to do whatever she could (ground her, lecture her, forbid her from driving, nail her window shut, try to get her interested in school dances/yearbook/cheerleading, threaten to put her in a ward again "you need help" "I'm not crazy!", physically try to stop her from leaving the house, suggest private girl schools) to steer her on the path she wanted her to be on.

Niala Wesley said...

I always wondered why her father seemed so angry at the thought of Buffy being out with Tyler. Was Tyler a freshman like Buffy? *I need to read the Origins graphic novel* "I don't want her seeing him anymore, period!" It was enough to cause a huge fight between Hank & Joyce. The subject of Tyler obviously came up many times before. Joyce said, "I'm not having this conversation again" and Hank accused Joyce of being unable to discipline Buffy (wow, will that change in the future!). Joyce told Buffy that Tyler was irresponsible.

I always wondered what Tyler did to Buffy to spark her comments to her friends when one of them asks if she is going to the dance with him. She was clearly mad at him for something.

Buffy: Where were you when I got over Tyler? He's of the past. Tyler would have to crawl on his hands and knees to get me to get me to go to the dance with him. Which, actually, he's supposed to do after practice, so I'm going to wait.

Niala Wesley said...

Joyce would definitely prefer something to be wrong with Buffy. Joyce mentioned that she read all of the parenting books/guides. She felt she could handle Buffy being involved with gangs, on drugs, promiscuous, ditching school, violent, an arsonist, or anything else of that ilk. It reminds me of a line from Principle Snyder "Why couldn't it just be drugs?" Joyce would rather have a troubeled daughter that she saw as immature and destructive that has run ins with murderers and thugs than an altruistic heroic mature daughter that fights the forces of darkness. "What I wanted was a happy normal daughter. Instead I got a Slayer."

hf said...

prequels very poorly. I'm not sure if you want spoilery details or not.

It's not a spoiler if it didn't happen.

hf said...

I always wondered why her father seemed so angry at the thought of Buffy being out with Tyler.

For all I know they retcon this in some recent comic, but I see Hank as an asshat. Buffy criticizes him harshly and fairly in a later season, IIRC. Well, I say "fairly". One of my teachers would insist on calling it justice rather than fairness, since she doesn't treat everyone the same way or even call them out consistently for awful behavior.

I wondered for a minute if we could blame Hank for Joyce's abusiveness. But it's not like he's Fire Lord Ozai. He couldn't create the awfulness of Joyce without help. Hey, maybe her "parenting books" come from the Avatar universe!

Niala Wesley said...

I didn't feel that she did criticize him harshly. To me, she seemed more...resigned. And with resignation comes a certain level of acceptance.

So far no retcons involving Hank Summers. I wouldn't be surprised if he makes an appearance in the somewhat near future. It would fit with some of the season 9 themes.

Niala Wesley said...

I'm fine with spoilers. :)

Ana Mardoll said...

I think the thing that infuriates me so much about Joyce's response to Buffy's "bad behavior" is that at NO POINT does she seem to consider that Buffy is a victim of something. We even have that Angel flashback where Buffy comes home confused and upset and disoriented (because she just learned about vampires) and very weakly says she was "with Tyler" (iirc the name) and then goes to the bathroom and cries.


Because then Buffy becomes "bad" and "acts out" and not too too long after this is the episode where she's dressing provocatively and acting out "sexually" (if we can characterize close dancing that way), and throughout all this there is never even a HINT from Joyce that maybe there's more to all this than Buffy just being "bad".

I find that infuriating as a characterization choice; I would have MUCH more sympathy for Joyce if she seemed open to the possibility that something bad had happened to change Buffy. But such a thing would require, you know, Joyce NOT inviting male foreign exchange students to come live with them without telling Buffy. @#*^*(^!#

Ana Mardoll said...

Ironically, that one was handled in a quick throw-away joke; Joyce asks Spike if she knows him from somewhere and he says she hit him with an axe once and reminds her of the "get away from my daughter" thing she said at the time. But that was pretty clearly a joke; Joyce doesn't respond past that or seem to grapple with the fact that she tangled with a vampire.

Isator Levi said...

Oh I know, and I do like that exchange (all else aside, it's quite funny).

It's just, you know... he's a murderer, and somebody who threatened her daughter, and he's -right there- and you'd think that she at least wouldn't want to be left alone in a room with him.

I just think that would be a more -immediate- concern than whether or not Ted was a monster and could come back (even if Ted was probably the -greater- concern).

Isator Levi said...

He's a recurring character.

I can't remember the precise wording, but my recollection of the tone was definitely explicit.

That said, I'll admit that it's just an extra characterisation point, rather than a big thing.

I just though it was humorous for you to have hit on that term with that character. :)

Silver Adept said...

Mr. Trick gets to hang the lampshade on why Sunnydale is such a white place, but there's no explicit saying whether this is by design, by whether the demons and vampires explicitly pretty on minority characters, or by whether minorities tend to be the ones outside when the demons and vampires are out, and so get killed in great numbers by them, pretty well ensuring Sunnydale as the place where minorities don't go.

It would be in line with Joyce's characterization for her to have thought that the right place to take her daughter after the incident at her previous school was a Sundown Town our a place with a high prevalence of gated communities for the white and wealthy, since she doesn't know the truth. Far easier to blame things that are historically associated with minorities and conclude that the way to save her daughter is to go somewhere the minorities aren't.

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