Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Villains
March 3, 2016 8:09 AM - Season 6, Episode 20 - Subscribe

Spike seeks a deal with a demon. A grief stricken Willow absorbs most of Sunndale's dark magic and tracks down Warren.
posted by yellowbinder (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I know Evil Willow is a terrible thing and "Oh no, she's the Big Bad now" but I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels like Warren deserved what he got. To borrow a phrase from the Simpsons, "It's good that Willow did that." I don't like the progression of her intentions after she finds and flays Warren though. Sure, chase down the other two guys, but why does every villain default to destroying the world? Why doesn't anybody want to rule the world? But I suppose that's a topic for next week.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:24 AM on March 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sure, chase down the other two guys, but why does every villain default to destroying the world? Why doesn't anybody want to rule the world?

Most of the Big Bads wanted to rule the world -- the Master, the Mayor, Glory, the First Evil... even Adam didn't seem to want to destroy the world. It was just Angelus, who was a psychopathic nihilist; and Dark Willow, who wanted to destroy herself as much as the world just to make the pain go away.
posted by Etrigan at 10:42 AM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I really do love Evil Willow, at least in theory. (Like, in my fantasy headcanon world where they stuck with the 'abuse of power' angle rather than the 'drugs' angle and where Willow finally came to the realization that abusing her power was hurting people and made a sincere effort to change for that reason... and then it turned out that NOT abusing power wouldn't protect people any better...)
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:43 AM on March 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Like, in my fantasy headcanon world where they stuck with the 'abuse of power' angle rather than the 'drugs' angle and where Willow finally came to the realization that abusing her power was hurting people and made a sincere effort to change for that reason...

IMO, this was the big misstep in that plotline - to me, blaming magic addiction sounded like they were all just dangerously mistaken about what was really going on. I think it's a big part of how I don't look back on the show as fondly as I might - earlier metaphors were a bit on the nose, but they rang true. Like, "Teenagers are animals," or "Boyfriends sometimes turn evil after you sleep with them," or even "We shouldn't be afraid of scary dummies because there's a 50/50 shot they'll be good after all."

For the writers to miss that Willow was drunk on *power* made me feel like they didn't really know what they were talking about.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels like Warren deserved what he got. To borrow a phrase from the Simpsons, "It's good that Willow did that."

Yeah, that was another thing that always bugged me on Buffy: there are a zillion sapient forms of life in the universe, and it's okay to kill any of them for the greater good. Except humans. Killing Warren was a clear good, IMO: no regular jail was ever going to hold him, and he was going to keep on truckin' if he wasn't stopped. If he had been anything but a human, they would've high fived her, and that part of the show always made me uncomfortable.
posted by mordax at 12:05 PM on March 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


"We shouldn't be afraid of scary dummies because there's a 50/50 shot they'll be good after all."

At best, it's a 25 percent chance.
posted by Etrigan at 12:07 PM on March 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


At best, it's a 25 percent chance.

Touché. Still, I think America needed the reminder that Sid was good, even if his performance was a little wooden.

I'll just, uh, see myself out.
posted by mordax at 12:16 PM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Warren is pretty clearly a sociopath with a thing for women who defy his will. If Willow didn't kill him, it's pretty clear more women in the future would die so yeah it's hard to see his death as anything but a clear good.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:30 PM on March 3, 2016


Warren is pretty clearly a sociopath with a thing for women who defy his will. If Willow didn't kill him, it's pretty clear more women in the future would die so yeah it's hard to see his death as anything but a clear good.

To be fair, the episode acknowledges this and has Dawn and Xander explicitly say so! It's Buffy who points out that the reason they're stopping Willow is to save her, not Warren.

This, incidentally, is why the no-kill rule is so important for Buffy and Batman and Superman, and all sorts of heroes with tremendous power. It's not that there aren't people who deserve it, it's that carrying out the job of jury and executioner damages you, and soon you're crossing lines you would never have crossed to start with. It's not about the Joker needing to die, or Warren needing to die, it's about Buffy needing to not kill.

For the writers to miss that Willow was drunk on *power* made me feel like they didn't really know what they were talking about.

Yes, although while they clearly made this mistake earlier in the season, I think for these three episodes it's very clear that Willow is running on power, grief and anger. There's not a hint of addiction, which makes that earlier bit even more bizzare.

This and the remaining episodes are quite plotty. There are three whole episodes for this arc to be spread across, and as I mentioned, a lot of the characters don't have much of a journey. Buffy is trying to protect Dawn rather than include her, Xander is frustrated about how useless he feels. And Willow is trying to deny who she is, how she feels. As I say, despite doing a lot, Buffy isn't really important to this final arc.

The flaying of Warren is genuinely unpleasant, and marks a real step change. Willow has gone off the deep end here, she has dispensed justice in cold blood, and she isn't finished.

How much of Willow is actually behind her actions? Now that's tough, because the writers obscure it, but my theory is that this is Willow essentially giving in to the greater power of the magic, letting it guide her, to avoid feeling anything about Tara. We'll see snippets of the real Willow when she talks about Tara, and it's important that what stops her in the end is feeling again, actually connecting with what has happened rather than just giving in to rage.

-"I miss Ferris Matthew."
-"I've been heading an organisation, the Trio, you've heard of us."
-Dawn finding Tara is quitely moving. It's a shame we never give her much chance to process the loss of someone who felt like a surrogate mother to her.
-I don't mind too much, but the complete lack of involvement of the police in the multiple gunshot incident is pretty flagrant really. As I say, the writers only care about real life when it matters to them.
-Buffy leaves Dawn with Clem based on the knowledge that Clem is

a)a random demon who knows Spike
b)Someone who gambles with kittens.

But sure, totally safe.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:34 AM on March 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


-Dawn finding Tara is quitely moving. It's a shame we never give her much chance to process the loss of someone who felt like a surrogate mother to her.

I'm only just realizing that Dawn essentially has five parent figures either die or leave in the space of a year and a half. First her mom, then her sister at the end of season 5, then Giles goes back to England, now Tara dies and Willow goes completely off the deep end. Poor kid, I just want to give her a hug.
posted by platinum at 4:06 PM on March 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


This, incidentally, is why the no-kill rule is so important for Buffy and Batman and Superman, and all sorts of heroes with tremendous power. It's not that there aren't people who deserve it, it's that carrying out the job of jury and executioner damages you, and soon you're crossing lines you would never have crossed to start with. It's not about the Joker needing to die, or Warren needing to die, it's about Buffy needing to not kill.

Oh, I agree with that in principle, and I think it actually does work when it is consistently applied, the way that it is in many adaptations of Batman, Superman or a variety of other superheroic figures. It doesn't ring true for me on Buffy because they arrange to kill thinking, feeling creatures for the greater good, without any real oversight, on a weekly basis.

Really, what's the difference between Clem and Warren? It boils down to race, and that I'd only leave Dawn with one of them. Whenever the show highlights how wrong it is to kill a human, they're also highlighting that if the person looked different enough, it would be fine to treat them violently. That seems wrong to me, both morally and psychologically.

... I guess I'm trying to say that in a story where the main character's job description is literally 'Slayer,' they may need to have a more nuanced take on killing than Batman does, or it reflects badly on the protagonists for me.

How much of Willow is actually behind her actions? Now that's tough, because the writers obscure it, but my theory is that this is Willow essentially giving in to the greater power of the magic, letting it guide her, to avoid feeling anything about Tara.

Eh. I think positing an external influence lets her off too easily, and makes the story lose any real punch it might have. If Willow does bad stuff because A Wizard Did It, there's nothing really to be learned, which is ultimately how I felt about the whole 'drugs == magic' nonsense arc. That doesn't map to any real world situation, and the rules are too inconsistently applied within the story itself for us to really learn anything there, either.

If Willow does bad stuff because Willow was pushed, and suddenly had access to overwhelming firepower, there's some meat there, both in terms of aesops, (which the show really had a lot of), and in terms of characterization, (which is good for drama).
posted by mordax at 5:57 PM on March 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Warren is pretty clearly a sociopath with a thing for women who defy his will. If Willow didn't kill him, it's pretty clear more women in the future would die so yeah it's hard to see his death as anything but a clear good.

I concur entirely though I also think we can find a tremendous amount of ground in between execution and yanking someone's skin off. I wonder to what extent forgiving the Slayer for her actions is partly that. Buffy is supposed to be a protector of humans and presumably isn't supposed to "play with the food." When you add that up - as well as the later embrace of the fact that the way the Slayer was envisioned and the way the role is filled is a problematic thing - I can buy the idea of "don't kill people" is a combination of how to retain your humanity in the Slayer role as well as being a partially misguided/arbitrary rule handed down from the same meddling old men who made the role in the first place.
posted by phearlez at 12:48 PM on March 5, 2016


"Bored now"
posted by Faintdreams at 3:06 PM on March 5, 2016


This, incidentally, is why the no-kill rule is so important for Buffy and Batman and Superman, and all sorts of heroes with tremendous power. It's not that there aren't people who deserve it, it's that carrying out the job of jury and executioner damages you, and soon you're crossing lines you would never have crossed to start with. It's not about the Joker needing to die, or Warren needing to die, it's about Buffy needing to not kill.

I'd have been much more amenable to this point if the writers hadn't weaseled out on the question of whether Buffy would kill Faith in Graduation Day. I wanted Faith to survive, but because Buffy made a conscious choice not to kill, rather than her choice being made for her by a super-convenient truck passing by. It feels to me more like "we don't kill humans" is a rule only when the writers want it to be, rather than a consistent part of the mythos throughout the series.

If Willow does bad stuff because Willow was pushed, and suddenly had access to overwhelming firepower, there's some meat there, both in terms of aesops, (which the show really had a lot of), and in terms of characterization, (which is good for drama).

Also, Willow's arc in Season 7, and the way other characters treat her, makes much more sense if Willow had agency in this spree, rather than "the magic took over." Like Giles and the coven send Willow back to Sunnydale before she's finished her training, to practice magic under high-stress situations, without a single one of the supposedly "amazing women" of the coven going with her to offer in-person guidance or support. That seems fairly questionable even under the "Willow had agency" theory. Under the "the magic took over" theory, that seems utterly insane and indefensible. Ditto for Buffy pushing Willow to do magic in Get it Done.
posted by creepygirl at 1:10 PM on March 6, 2016


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