a blank slate

a blank slate

Tag: buffy the vampire slayer

Buffy #1 On Spike and “good” vampires

I start the new year with a TV post because this is a blog about writing, and Whedon is one of my favourite writers. Let me just say that this is based on years of Buffy reruns and I haven’t read the graphic novels. I think some stories don’t need sequels and this is one of those. If what I’ve said gets wholly cancelled out in “Angel: After the Fall” or something, I’m perfectly fine being left in the dark about it. There are spoilers for those who haven’t seen the show (in which case, make it your new year’s resolution: watching Buffy. Seriously.)


Once, in the hopes of getting my sister to watch the epicness that is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I retold her the story of Angel, the vampire who was put under a curse and given his soul back, and his “moment of true happiness” with the slayer that took it away unleashing the terror that was Angelus. Angel has a particular charm about him, being Buffy’s first true love and a classic symbol for redemption, even Giles eventually likes him. Angel’s soul-loss story forms the most effectively narrated Buffy (two-part) episode – Surprise and Innocence, which aired way back in January, 1998. And yet, I’ve always rooted for Spike.


It is the romance of his character that makes him particularly delectable, hidden as it is under all the badassery and platinum-blonde screw-all British-ness. Also, Spike’s story is new, so different from your regular ‘good’ vampire. William is harmless as a human, an aspiring poet with mommy issues, bullied by his peers, rejected by his love, he runs into Drusilla, an insane vampire who bites and turns him. Enter: William the Bloody, also known as Spike for killing his victims with railroad spikes. Spike is unusually passionate which, as a vampire, makes him an especially ruthless killer. However, William’s vulnerability remains in the demon. He loves, or he likely remembers love and empathy more than most vampires.

Around season 5, a long winding chain of incidents leaves him in Sunnydale, in contact with Buffy, with a chip in his head that keeps him from attacking humans. Buffy, who has recently been resurrected into a world she no longer believes she fits in, starts a love-hate relationship with the vampire, the only one who knows what it is like to be undead, and back from the grave. When Spike falls for the slayer, becomes addicted to her more like, Buffy states that the vampire is incapable of loving anything but pain. More to prove a point than anything else, Spike goes through terrible hardships to earn back his soul. And when he does, he is the harmless William again, with memories of the evil he’s done. He goes insane. And he does fall in love with Buffy, now faced with the full and terrible understanding that she could never love him back.

Buffy does care for him. But does she love Spike like she loves Angel? I doubt it. She identifies herself with Spike who has always been a misfit. An evil vampire who could love and a powerless vampire with a chip and then, a vampire who cursed himself with a soul – unlike Angel who had it done to him. She understands his misery, empathizes with it. She meets Angel when he is brooding and repentant, but over the immediate shock of what he is and has done, whereas with Spike she is with him at the point when he is hit by his guilt. Knowing what it means to be a vampire and knowing what he must now live with, she understands that she needs to not be the slayer, for once, for him. She pities him for what happened to him, what he did to himself but over the course of the season, does come to respect him for what he attempts to make of it. Buffy forgives Spike because his strength in dealing with all the crap of first the chip, then the soul and the insanity, then the first evil influencing him overwhelms her.
And through her fondness for Spike, we begin to believe, as does Angel, that she is in love. Which is when we get that moment, that dizzying-ly beautiful scene at the end, before Spike goes down with Sunnydale High when Buffy tells him she loves him, and he replies, “No, you don’t, but thanks for saying it,” and their eyes burn into each-others and the world shatters in our hearts. Because, we know he’s right. Spike is pathetic, till the very end. He is a vampire who is not a glorified monster, not a Stephanie Meyer or an Anne Rice anti-hero, but a creature you actually feel sorry for. Because he was a good human who had a bad thing happen to him. He isn’t about how cool or sexy it is to be an outcast but, especially towards the end, brings out the real dilemma of those who don’t belong. Throughout Buffy we are shown how necessary it is to have connections, and Spike understands it the best. He tells Buffy once that the reason she has survived so long is that she is surrounded by people who know and protect her secret. And in Touched, he becomes the best of those and her greatest comfort. Buffy the Vampire Slayer doesn’t celebrate loneliness unlike most popular vampire series, and Spike perfectly illustrates that. His story reinforces what Buffy is all about – slayer: good, vampire: bad, and makes him the most surprising and complex character on the show.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Love

Edit: This post is infested with Spoilers! Don’t read ahead if you haven’t watched the series. 

Willow – The one boy that’s really liked me, and he’s a demon robot. What does that say about me?
Buffy – It doesn’t say anything about you.
Willow – I mean, I thought I was really falling…
Buffy – Hey, did you forget? The one boy I’ve had the hots for since I’ve moved here turned out to be a vampire.
Xander – Right, and the teacher I had a crush on? Giant praying mantis.
Willow – That’s true.
Xander – Yeah, that’s life on the Hellmouth.
Buffy – Let’s face it, none of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal relationship.
Xander – We’re doomed!
Willow – Yeah!
[They all laugh, though their laughter quickly becomes nervous and stops..]

This post may be ten years late, (and ten pages long… sorry!), but I’m still going through with it.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS) is probably my favourite television show ever. If this makes you roll your eyes or smirk or go ‘ew, really’, then you’ve never seen the show, or worse, only seen the movie. I don’t like love stories, which diminishes my stock of Valentine’s Day themed posts considerably. What I do like are witty, romantic sub-plots, which this series is full of. I know it’s old, but what the show lacks in effects and technology, it makes up for in the ingenuity of the plots and the amazing script. It’s not a love story, because it’s more like an action-story about the Slayer and all her fighting and saving the world stuff. The trio, Buffy, Willow and Xander, fight demons on a regular basis, guided by Watcher and high school librarian, Rupert Giles. Sunnydale high is situated directly on the Hellmouth, a place where all the evil in the world converges. And isn’t that what high school is like, anyway?
Still. BtVS has got a lot more to do with romance than it initially lets on. A witch in love with a werewolf; a witch losing control of her powers, using dark magic, and wanting to end the world when the love of her life dies; a thousand year old demon girl falling for a human boy; a vampire restoring his soul for a human…

The vampire-in-love-with-a human concept is old news, now. I haven’t seen it as deep and insightful ever as in Buffy. In Buffyverse, when a human is turned into a vampire he loses his soul or conscience, his ability to care, making him just a ruthless killer. Angel, however, is a vampire who is cursed with a soul, to make him eternally suffer for his sins.

Buffy can’t help being attracted to him (I mean, have you seen David Boreanaz?) They kiss and he turns into his vampire self. Being the slayer, she sets out to kill him, until she finds about the curse that keeps him “good”. Their relationship develops and when they have sex, in that moment of perfect happiness, the curse on Angel is revoked, turning him ruthless again. He begins to terrorize Buffy and her friends, and plans to destroy the world. Prior to a huge fight, Willow somehow restores Angel’s soul, but it’s too late. Buffy kills Angel. He is banished to a Hell dimension, where he seemingly spends an eternity before mysteriously returning to Earth, a few months later. Though Buffy and Angel get back together, noticing the effects he has on Buffy’s life, Angel decides to leave her; hoping that she would be happier without him. And unlike most vampire-human love stories, he goes for good. He loves her enough not to risk her life. She keeps loving him till the very end, though. I think Buffy and Angel make the perfect example of forbidden love, the most real one at any rate.

With Angel gone and high school over, Buffy is at a turning point in her life; soon, she meets the perfect guy, Riley Finn. Riley is an agent in a top secret government operation to capture, study and incapacitate demons. Riley already knows about the supernatural world and Buffy finally finds a human boyfriend, whom she can be completely honest with. Soon, though, Riley begins to think of himself as a liability to Buffy. Seeking thrills (and also, assuming Buffy loved Angel because he was a vampire) Riley lets a female vampire feed on him, which later turns into a sort of addiction. Buffy finds out and their relationship ends when Rileys leaves Sunnydale.
The third big romance for Buffy is another vampire, Spike. After Buffy is magically resurrected from the dead by her friends, she feels lost and lonely. Spike is everything Buffy hates about this world, and the only one she can talk to. They start a violent, sexual relationship. Buffy breaks it off, when she realizes that she is just using him to get over her own suffering. Afterward Spike almost rapes her, losing her trust completely. Wanting to prove that he is good enough for Buffy, Spike undergoes a series of trials and – wins back his soul.

Spike returns to Sunnydale completely crazy. He is haunted by the memories of the people he tortured. When Buffy learns about his newly-acquired soul, she lets him back into her life. They never develop a relationship again, though they are close. He is her only support, when everyone else turns their back on her. In their very last fight, Spike dies to save the world. And when’s he’s about to die, Buffy holds his hand and tells him that she loves him. He goes laughing in the face of death, becoming a true champion.
Spike: A hundred plus years, and there’s only one thing I’ve ever been sure of – you. Hey, look at me. I’m not asking you for anything. When I say I love you, it’s not because I want you, or because I can’t have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are. What you do. How you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you, and I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You are a hell of a woman. You’re the one, Buffy.
Now that’s true love, or unconditional love, or sometimes true love, which doesn’t really work out because the time isn’t right. You know, some love stories end happily, some not so much. But the thing is, I love they way they are written. It’s not that original, true, but it’s very grown-up, mature, well thought out.
I love how every single thing has an in-depth explanation, how carefully every single action is filmed and how all the seasons are sort of related and tied together. It’s what I feel when I read Harry Potter, like the entire plot was planned first and then divided into seven parts. Which is crazy, because, of course they didn’t plan the tv series beforehand! But must be some show if it makes you think that…
More than anything, this is one of those shows that knows it has to become super-intense and dramatic at times, but makes up for all the cliches by laughing at itself the next moment. You may think that the dialogues are cheesy, you’re just not in on the joke.
Angel: I saw you before you became the Slayer.
Buffy: What?
Angel: I watched you, and I saw you called. It was a bright afternoon out in front of your school. You walked down the steps… and… and I loved you.
Buffy: Why?
Angel: ‘Cause I could see your heart. You held it before you for everyone to see. And I worried that it would be bruised or torn. And more than anything in my life I wanted to keep it safe… to warm it with my own.
Buffy: That’s beautiful. Or, taken literally, incredibly gross.
Angel: I was just thinking that, too.