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January 29 2009

Buffy season 7 - a fan's manifesto. Radical (for want of a better word) meta that's getting a fair bit of attention in the LiveJournal fandom.

Very good commentary on a very thematically confusing topic. Well done.

(I read the meta, but not the endless list of comments. Much too long, and I have much too much stuff to do today.)
#1 is an idea I've shared many times myself. Fanwank, but sensible fanwank.

Gonna disagree fundamentally with Stormwreath's #2 point -- but for the amulet, the plan is an unmitigated failure. It had been established onscreen that the line was *not* holding, nor would it hold. It was as hopeless as Thermopylae in the long-term. Low thousands or not, there were 22* Slayers and a vampire at the start, and 8 Slayers came out. They lost 1 of their 6 in the rearguard. That was with them barely having made a dent. The ubervamps' numbers would have overwhelmed them and wiped them out probably if the fight had gone on even another 10 minutes. The success of the plan is only in that they got Spike in position and kept him alive.

By extension, then, I reject #3 and #4.

#5 I agree with Stormwreath.

#6 is, with respect, pie-in-the-sky nontextualism. I reject this proposal as well.

#7 is plausible, but I'm really not sure -- I tend to think all the comments Buffy made like that were mostly motivation, encouragement. Like the Oracle convincing Neo he isn't the One.

#8 is unclear -- we don't know enough to declare that across the board, and we have several examples for whom becoming a Slayer led to serious problems.

#9 is accepted.

#10 is rejected on the basis that the underlying assumption that every Slayer implicitly consented is non-textual.

I'm not saying "accepted" or "rejected" like it's up to me for everyone, but those are my own answers.

*I picked through every group scene in "Chosen" and the episodes leading up, and the closest total I can get to is that there were 21 hands over the Seal. Kennedy is upstairs making the 22nd Slayer. Then Willow, and three pairs upstairs. 30 total go in. I picked through every online resource and interview, and the episode itself to figure out who survived, and came up with only six of the Potentials who went in having survived to come out -- Kennedy, Vi, Rona, Shannon, Caridad, and Chao-Ahn (that wasn't her that get killed). So they seem to have gone in with 30 and come out with 14, and barely a third of the front line force (8 out of 23, including Spike).

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-01-30 00:49 ]
Plus, in my head I always liked to think that Rona bled to death on the bus because she was an endlessly annoying whiner who didn't stop complaining about anything and just wanted to sit around being protected while not contributing. That's just me, of course.

Anyway, I used to think up all kinds of this stuff until I had to just come to the realization that there was extreme ball-droppage in terms of writing. It's hard for me to say that, as a fan of BtVS since it's very first airdate way back when, but really there were just a number of poorly handled things in S7.

Giles, Xander, and Anya fell by the wayside as the horde of new characters ate up screentime and storytime while the story itself was (clearly) full of many, many holes. The first half of S7 seemed to really be leading somewhere but then something happened and it became clear there wasn't a master-plan situation happening.

I didn't hate S7 or anything (there's no season of BtVS I hate) but it for sure didn't measure up to previous seasons or to being the great end season it could have been with more time and preparation put in.

[ edited by Dhoffryn on 2009-01-30 01:49 ]

[ edited by Dhoffryn on 2009-01-30 01:49 ]
I think I've seen all these fanwanks before. Several of them fall into the "if the writers had thought to do this, they could have fixed the problem they created" class. E.g. 1, 4, 6.

7 and 9 are adequately established (and, I would have though, uncontroversial) within the corpus as it stands.

5 in interpretive--but seems fair.

8 and 10 are interpretive, and seem like hard arguments to sustain in the light of Season 8.

Two claims do not seem supportable, however:

2. The Slayers managed to defeat the army of turok-han themselves, which means that Buffy's plan worked. The fact that the amulet wiped them all out and closed the Hellmouth permanently was an unexpected but welcome bonus.

Buffy's army is losing the fight, pretty clearly, until Spike's amulet is activated. I think it takes an absurd degree of optimism to suggest that they were going to win the day without the amulet.

3. Buffy's plan made good tactical sense. Her victory wasn't solely down to luck.

Other than the "they needed the Hellmouth open in order to make spell work" (which is a nice fanwank), nothing in Buffy's plan makes any sense at all. Having opened the Hellmouth, why not wait around to see if the spell works before going inside (the potentials clearly didn't need to be inside in order to be activated). Why go inside at all? Why so few useful weapons (flamethrowers anyone? Supersoakers full of holy water? Even if one party does go inside, why leave no one to guard the narrow E-Z-kill exit point that the T'Hs will have to exit through if they get past the advance party? Why expect a few filing cases behind doors to act as effective barriers to the T'Hs that do escape? Etc. etc. etc. No--tactically the entire plan is laughable. Willow's spell only served a purpose (delaying the T'H long enough for Spike's amulet to boot up) because they used the Worst Plan Ever.

This is why I don't agree, by the way, with the people who say "oh, it's the characters and the emotions that count--who cares about these nuts and bolts details?" When you mess up the nuts and bolts, that messes up the characters and the emotions. Am I supposed to think Buffy is a great warrior or a lucky dimwit? Am I supposed to be moved at the sudden sharing of the Slayer-Woman-Power which Saves the Day or am I supposed to think "geez--that was a waste of time, shoulda just let the man-vamp save the day"?

In the end, the nuts and bolts are what the Grand Symbolic Moments are made out of, along with the Great Emotional Moments. I just can't be appropriately moved by the events of "Chosen" because I keep thinking "what a waste--none of these people had to die!" rather than "oh, what a great heroic sacrifice."
I used to think up all kinds of this stuff until I had to just come to the realization that there was extreme ball-droppage in terms of writing.

Yeah, I agree with that, and everything else Dhoffryn said (except the bit about Rona ;)). (Or is it Rhona?). We had a big discussion on here the other day about S6, which tends to be the controversial one, and while there were some weak points to that season I still thought it was a really ambitious, wrenching, hilarious season that mostly held together. S7 had great moments too, but it just got sloppier and sloppier, and there just aren't enough excuses.

And what snot monster said about nuts and bolts!
Oh, "Chosen." When I first watched that episode, I mostly blinked to myself several times, and couldn't figure out what had just happened.

Like most of season seven: good central ideas, a lack of attention to detail, some incredible moments of grandeur, a lot of really, really confusing stuff. But the more I think about it the more I like it--even if it's possible I like what they're trying to do more than what they actually did.

Anyway, onto the actual points in the meta, noting that I do actually like "Chosen" before I, you know, tear it apart:

1. The ubervamp inconsistency would bother me less if there had been more evidence beforehand that the ubies were a little less uber--the inconsistency isn't as annoying as the fact that we weren't let in on the rule change. There was the scene at the beginning of "End of Days" that showed a few, and Buffy sure sliced and diced better than in "Showtime", but that was, I thought, about the scythe. I know it wasn't Joss's priority, but I wish someone had stepped up on staff and figured out some halfway plausible explanation and placed it in dialogue. A little extra spell somewhere? Angel having some extra information about Ubervamps when he comes?

2. I like this interpretation, and it's somewhat borne out by the Ubervamps running outside into the school as if fleeing. But there isn't all that much visual evidence for it. The good guys did seem to be winning-ish after Buffy revived herself though. (And I do have to ask: how did Buffy survive that mortal wound again?)

3. I think it's best just to accept that within the context of the show it was a good plan, even though in the real world it probably wouldn't be. If we accept that Buffy had some reason to believe that the ubervamps weren't that much more badass than regular vampires--just more pure in their evil, I guess--then even the act of taking many of them out would be a huge plus, even if ultimately a few were released. The fact that Buffy et al. probably would have failed and should have been calling for backup, etc., from Angel, from the Initiative, from any demonhunters in the world, from any Watchers left alive, from basically everyone in the world is on the one hand completely accurate but on the other hand somewhat counter to the emotional tenor of the story. The story is primarily an emotional one, not a literal one; so calling in help from ex-boyfriends and strangers, while a practical move, isn't done.

Anyway. I think it's probably true that Willow could only perform the spell once our heroes were in the hellmouth, although there's no actual explanation of why. My personal theory--and what I would have championed were I on staff--is that the scythe actually tapped energy from the hellmouth into the slayers--similar to the demonic energy infused into the first slayer, but filtered through the scythe and Willow to be purely good. That'd explain why the Ubies got weakened, too, and all it requires is a firm believe that Willow can go there without succumbing to the darkness, as well as satisfying most of the emotional and metaphorical requirements of the story. I like this so much in fact that I more or less assume it to be true. But of course it's not in the text. It's in the text that Willow does have to do the spell over the hellmouth. That's about it.

4. I agree to a point, but this was a central problem with season seven: the First as a moral force (or immoral force) was never really established. After the brilliant "Conversations with Dead People," it mostly hung around and bugged Andrew a few times and talked one potential into suicide and almost got Wood to kill Spike. The army of vampires seems meaningless to me--why exactly does a bunch of ubervamps achieve corruption and "every drop of hate"? It...doesn't. Basically.

5. Completely agree that Spike's heroism is not anti-feminist. Spike is Buffy's creation--she transformed him to be a hero, she gave him the orders, she is responsible for his redemption. And ultimately, Buffy is not all about feminism--it's more broadly about humanism, and I think Spike's amulet thing fulfills that.

Will perhaps continue later (must be off for now).
I didn't have time to read through all of it, but I will say this:

8 and 10 are more than a little iffy for my tastes. For #8, we need look no further than Faith. I'm not sure becoming a Slayer was the best thing to happen to her (initially, at least). She seemed to have a great many problems stemming from childhood that would make it hard for her to use her powers responsibly, and coupled with lack of adequate guidance, I'm thinking at first the whole Slayer thing was a recipe for bad. It wasn't until much later that Faith learned to use her abilities in ways that were good for herself and the world around her.

As for #10, I do agree with her initial statement that the original spell was a violation. But Willow and Buffy's version also had the possibility to be something unwanted by some of the recipients. I do believe that it was never their intention for that to happen, but with something this big, there's always unintended consequences.

Very thought-provoking essay. I really have to give season seven a re-watch after this.
"My personal theory--and what I would have championed were I on staff--is that the scythe actually tapped energy from the hellmouth into the slayers--similar to the demonic energy infused into the first slayer, but filtered through the scythe and Willow to be purely good. That'd explain why the Ubies got weakened, too, and all it requires is a firm believe that Willow can go there without succumbing to the darkness, as well as satisfying most of the emotional and metaphorical requirements of the story. I like this so much in fact that I more or less assume it to be true." - WilliamTheB

See, this would make great sense within the story and aide/wrapup Willow's fear of the magic use pretty much perfectly. What happened in that writer's room, I wonder? I mean, it was pretty much the same writing team as earlier seasons, S6 specifically, only they had the aide of the super-great Drew Goddard and NO ONE could think up something like this?

I always felt the vibe everyone just kind of got burned out by mid S7 and that's what led to the drop in sense/overall quality.
Of course, the other thing that this doesn't address (well, one of many) is how incredibly dumb The First's plan is. Of all the hellmouths in all the world you choose to stage your attack from the one that happens to have a Slayer living beside it?

Of course, The First turned out to be the lamest of el-lamo Big Bads the world had ever seen, so I guess that was just par for the course. If the Scoobies hadn't all been given sneak lobotomies (a fan wank that, alas, explains too much of S7) the First would have been less of a danger than The Trio. (It's an odd thing, really, given that Joss had kinda hit the nail on The First's lameness as a villain in Amends with Buffy's "Let me guess, you're evil?" line).
Spike is Buffy's creation--she transformed him to be a hero, she gave him the orders, she is responsible for his redemption.


I totally disagree with that. Spike's journey as a character and his redemption cannot be boiled down to Buffy herself. Too many factors and people were involved.
I always felt the vibe everyone just kind of got burned out by mid S7 and that's what led to the drop in sense/overall quality. .

Yeah--I think they were all kinda bummed about the show ending and it kinda stunted their creativity. When you start making little in-jokes about how you've been writing boring speeches for your main character, you must know that you're not on top of your game.
Plus Joss was busy with Firefly, no? I vaguely remember a somewhat-cranky-sounding commentary for the finale, in which he basically said they were tired and out of time... am I remembering that right?
"When you start making little in-jokes about how you've been writing boring speeches for your main character, you must know that you're not on top of your game"

Not so sure about that. You could just as well say 'The Zeppo' shows they thought they'd dropped the ball in season 3. Joss's shows make fun of themselves a fair bit eg. Dawn pointing out how bizarre it is that vampires seem to develop martial arts skills; or Wash saying 'that sounds like something out of science fiction' in Objects in Space
Yes, you're right about the series finale commentary for sure. I remember listening to it and being kind of surprised as to how unhappy Joss sounded with it, and the whole end-scenario in general. I don't mean to imply that S7 is horrible or without any good points or anything, it just pales in comparison to what it could and should have been.

Also, while we're on the subject and since I just (as in yesterday) finished re-watching the entire series I have to say that the potential slayers were the most annoying characters to ever appear on BtVS. What a stroke of genius to have a horde of whiney, good-for-nothing teenagers who literally do nothing but bitch and moan about absolutely everything, ALL THE TIME!!!!

I could have suffered through it quietly, but what amps me up was the way that our main characters acted like they had to answer to those snot-nosed (no offense to snot monster, of course:) ) brats. No one--not even the wonderful Anya!--put the little jerks in their place. There was no "Hey, listen, we're trying to keep you alive so if you don't like it then pack your crap and get the hell out" moment, and any time Buffy or someone said anything similar to that they were painted to be mean, or out of line.

The second half of S7 had potential after potential mouthing off, acting like they know anything (a couple months adjacent to people who've been doing this for 7yrs or more is equal experience, right?) and treating the Scooby Gang like garbage and they all just took it.
Not so sure about that. You could just as well say 'The Zeppo' shows they thought they'd dropped the ball in season 3.

You're referring, I guess, to the wonderful moment when Xander walks in on Buffy and Angel end-of-the-worlding to each other? I think a little self-awareness about genre conventions (like the "who says we don't live in a soap opera" one) is actually pretty different from a "gee, we make our heroine rabbit on for ever don't we"? To acknowledge that there is something inherently (and wonderfully) OTT about end-of-the-worlding is simply to say "you know, however well we do this stuff, from a certain angle it's going to seem overblown"--Andrew's joke about Buffy rambling on is a joke not at the genre's expense but at the writers': "we've so lost track of how to write this character that we've not been able to think of anything else for her to do than blather on meaninglessly about honor and sacrifice and God knows what."

Oh and Dhoffryn, you're so right about the potentials. The worst thing of all about them is that the 1st half of S7 had given us quite a lot of nice character moments between the original scoobies--one of the things that had really been missing in S6. And then they throw all that away for the mostly tedious exchanges between the largely interchangeable potentials and, worst of all, bring back Giles and utterly destroy his character because they want to run with a completely pointless gag about him possibly being The First. Gah!
Well, I think she dangerously undervalues the power of the amulet, and I cringe at the Thatcher-bashing, but otherwise have to say "You tell 'em, sister!"

I don't really like people who agree with me anymore than I like people who disagree with me, but I have to respect them for their brilliance.
"#10 is rejected on the basis that the underlying assumption that every Slayer implicitly consented is non-textual."

With this I agree wholeheartedly. I have real problems with the lack of consent.

Long week, tough day, and while I'd like to dig into this, I'm just exhausted.

"she is responsible for his redemption" With this I do not agree. Spike had agency and was responsible for his own actions.
Wasn't there also a real-world-war-ramp-up factor as well, that happened about midway through & caused some rethinking of how the storyline was going to play out?

I do think their plans were too ambitious for one season. I can actually see a lot of the stuff in this essay that aren't "in the text" perhaps actually being on the drawing board, but never making it into the show - and things like what Dhoffryn pointed out in WilliamTheB's post.

Too ambitious = not enough time for the characters. Willow's return/reintegration gets cut off; we see the wonderful start of it with Buffy deciding to help her heal herself, but then that relationship storyline stymies. And the potentials are left as little more than whiney teenagers, rather than fully developed characters. (Yes, there are complaints about how much time the potentials got, but overall it's not much per character, except for maybe Kennedy, and considering the baggage going into that, I'd argue not enough time there either.) Some folks end up hating Andrew, because not enough time means his character's moments are moments neither Anya nor Dawn nor Giles get. I adore the ambition of the season; I think if it were twice as long it would have worked much better.
"To acknowledge that there is something inherently (and wonderfully) OTT about end-of-the-worlding is simply to say "you know, however well we do this stuff, from a certain angle it's going to seem overblown"--Andrew's joke about Buffy rambling on is a joke not at the genre's expense but at the writers': "we've so lost track of how to write this character that we've not been able to think of anything else for her to do than blather on meaninglessly about honor and sacrifice and God knows what.""

To acknowledge that there's something inherently (and wonderfully) OTT about our heroine giving grand, moving speeches about honour and sacrifice is simply to say "you know, however well we do this stuff, from a certain angle it's going to seem overblown" -- The Zeppo's joke about Buffy and Angel once again doing overdramatic soap opera is a joke not at the genre's expense but at the writers': "we've so lost track of how to write these characters that we've not been able to think of anything else for them to do than talk about eternal love and God knows what"

My point being that your argument can be fit to suit whatever the particular viewer happens to like or dislike.

I have to run so I'll dot point the other things I was going to say
- Andrew's joke might be a joke at the expense of the character rather than the genre (though, as I'm getting at above, the joke at the expense of Buffy and Angel in the Zeppo can just as well be seen as a joke about the characters) but that doesn't mean it's critical of the writers. It seems fairly plain to me that they were trying to make Buffy at least partially unlikeable to lead up to the mutiny and then her finding her way back into the group. A joke about Buffy's character / boring speeches fits well into that idea without attacking the writers
- That one joke about Buffy's speeches hardly tells us what 'the writers' though about Buffy's speeches. At the most it might tell us what Jane Espenson (or whoever wrote the line) thought about it
I plan on posting a fairly lengthy comment about this later, maybe in a day or two. I only post now to say that I was in near-complete agreement with the author until a very unfortunate political aside near the end. Comparing someone to Adolf Hitler in any way at all, even obliquely, is a pretty strong statement, and I have to question both the wisdom and judgment of anyone who seriously thinks a) Margaret Thatcher is worthy of such a comparison and b) that such a comment was appropriate under the circumstances. I came for Buffy...save the political snark for when you're soused at the pub.
"Yes, you're right about the series finale commentary for sure. I remember listening to it and being kind of surprised as to how unhappy Joss sounded with it, and the whole end-scenario in general."

I dunno, he just sounded completely worn out to me. His major committment for 7 years had just come to an end and I think Firefly would have been cancelled not long before he did the commentary. But I'm not sure he actually sounded unhappy with 'Chosen', apart from making a few critical comments about how he directed some Buffy / Angel scenes (ie. he did it too much like a boring television director)
"Comparing someone to Adolf Hitler in any way at all, even obliquely, is a pretty strong statement, and I have to question both the wisdom and judgment of anyone who seriously thinks a) Margaret Thatcher is worthy of such a comparison and b) that such a comment was appropriate under the circumstances. I came for Buffy...save the political snark for when you're soused at the pub."

It might have been unfortunately expressed but he wasn't actually comparing the two or suggesting that they're on a similar plane of evil. He drew a parallel only insofar as, in his opinion, they're both bad leaders
save the political snark for when you're soused at the pub

Or when you're writing in your own LiveJournal?


(I'm not going to reply to the other points yet because I'm a bit burned out. Maybe tomorrow...)
"Drawing a parallel" is comparing. And even if I didn't like and approve of Thatcher, as a reasonable person I would have to admit that to "draw a parallel" between two such "mistakes" would be like saying, "Sure, I've made mistakes in my life. For example, I killed my next-door neighbor and his entire family and their household pets. And I also failed to pick up after my dog in a public park once."

Enough of this. I'll come back when I'm ready to treat the rest of the post with the fairness it deserves, which should be once my memories of it manage to rekindle the goodwill that was so quickly and stupidly squandered.
Anyway. I think it's probably true that Willow could only perform the spell once our heroes were in the hellmouth, although there's no actual explanation of why. My personal theory--and what I would have championed were I on staff--is that the scythe actually tapped energy from the hellmouth into the slayers--similar to the demonic energy infused into the first slayer, but filtered through the scythe and Willow to be purely good.


I've carried on about this at mind-numbing length before, and probably this will come off as meanspirited rather than resigned, but here goes:

These concerns are among the reasons that we are not on the @#$%@^ writing staff.

'Chosen' aired in 2003, right? Six years on we're spending precious time carrying on about the logistics of a pulp fiction plot, when the metaphor(s) behind it has (have) always been pretty clear. At day's end, all that matters with such a plot is that most viewers buy into it - and that everyone buys into it emotionally, i.e. that it makes sense in terms of characters' choices. Which is why the Buffy/Spike final evening occurs offscreen (to make room for fan contention), why the mechanism by which the amulet works is unexplained (to make metaphorical room and not make too grand a claim about Spike's/male morality, etc.), etc. Preoccupation with plot mechanics is one of the core elements of fandom, alas; it's a major obstacle for writers trying to get to the heart of a story.

In other words: this is a fun exercise but not worth getting upset about - unless you've invested reputation in knowing a lot about BtvS and so forth. Which is another sort of question, and a little (ahem) 'meta' for my tastes.

The writers of BtvS only needed to write enough plot to get the story to where it needed to be. If Whedon left it out, it's because he didn't think it mattered enough to include. The things we want have nothing to do with what we as viewers need - hmm, where've I heard that before? (!!!!)

To repeat: this is a fun exercise but not worth getting upset about. That's all.
"The writers of BtvS only needed to write enough plot to get the story to where it needed to be."

I agree, but I'm sad to say they failed at that.

There's a difference between someone not bringing their suspension of disbelief to the table and out-and-out bad storytelling, sorry. You can't say "well, it happened...just because, and you're being nitpicky for wanting an explanation". It's not unfair to expect things to flow and make sense within the given context and bounds.

The S5 finale, The Gift, had the sudden retcon of Olaf being a troll god so they could use his hammer as well as the monks making Dawn out of Buffy so she could sacrifice herself instead--and it worked largely because there was at least that throwaway attempt to make the grand sacrifice plausible in context so that the needed character/emotional climaxes could be reached.

The story failures of S7 would be like if The Gift didn't have those throwaway plot-hole filler lines to make the character/emotional aspects work. Imagine if suddenly Buffy just uses Olaf's hammer and it beats the hell out of Glory, then Buffy sees the sunset (flashing back that her gift is death) and sacrifices herself instead of Dawn. It wouldn't be nitpicky or unreasonable for a collective response of "Huh? Wait, what the hell just happened?" it would just be the natural response to poor storytelling.

It's nitpicking to sit there and draw up a diagram about how at 2:20pm Buffy left her house but got to the high school at 2:40pm on X date when previously it only took her 5mins, and once in S5 during the Christmas dinner flashback etc etc. That's being unreasonable, yes, but when you just go with the flow of the story and there are gaping logic holes and inconsistencies you aren't unjustified in counting that as a criticism.

[ edited by Dhoffryn on 2009-01-30 04:28 ]
Y'know, "Star Trek" didn't turn into an empire that's still standing after 43 years because fans stopped talking about the plot stuff since the writers only needed to come up with enough to move the story ahead. With "Buffy", it is just as vital to sustaining fan interest and curiousity to talk about plot/technical/phlebotenum stuff (why can Faith be in fighting shape after months in a coma? Why does Buffy know how to disassemble a rifle intuitively? How does Spike's chip work?) as it is to talk about character stuff. This topic, the battle in "Chosen" and the logistics of Season 7, are interesting *because* they are so hard to follow.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-01-30 04:42 ]
Dana, menomegirl: I think even as I wrote that about Spike's redemption being about Buffy I knew I would get into trouble. So yes, Spike's redemption was about Spike and his choices; it was also about Buffy. I was using overblown language in order to stress a point about where I think Spike's story fits within Buffy's; I don't actually believe that he has no agency. I still think that it's crucial to understand that Buffy is in great part a catalyst for change in others, and that is primarily what "Chosen" is about--Willow, Spike, the potentials, even to a lesser degree Faith and Wood and Xander and Giles and Dawn and Andrew and Anya all made their own choices, but all were somehow influenced by Buffy's strength.

Waxbanks: I agree with you to a point, but the fact that the First Evil's motivations were never clear, and that it's very difficult to understand textually whether Buffy's plan is supposed to be smart or not (the differences between her plan in "Dirty Girls"--stupid--and her plan in "Chosen"--smart--aren't well defined) can't just be written off. And of course some of the issues here are moral ones and not plot ones, although the plot ones are fun.

The fact that it's less important whether the Ubervamps can be strong or not doesn't actually mean it's not a cheat when they aren't. I don't care in the least that the details of Glory's plans made pretty much no sense, because they were laid out fairly clearly (although some people still didn't like the resolution with Buffy's v. Dawn's blood, which I thought was brilliant). But the writers shouldn't create an impossible situation and then change the rules entirely, when it was the very impossibility of the situation that was creating suspense.

Plus: I like my idea thematically--good from darkness. An ultimate challenge to Willow and the ultimate refutation of the darkness as the slayer's origins. But it's also pretty cheesy. And yes I'm aware of the myriad of reasons I at least am not on a writing staff. :) (But thanks Dhoffryn for the kind words. :) )

P.S. waxbanks: I'm also the William B who periodically comments on your blog. hi!

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2009-01-30 05:11 ]
Oh also: I don't actually mind the "bad speeches" part of Buffy season seven, because I think it's deliberate: it's very much about Buffy losing herself and losing her humanity as part of the slayer isolationist thing. I look at "Storyteller," which contained the mocking of Buffy's speeches, as a bit of a decoder ring for season seven: it's very meta (how do you make a good story?--compare Andrew's version of Buffy to Whedon/Espenson's, and to a lesser extent his shipper paradise version of a Xander/Anya talk to their private one) but it is also where Buffy drops her guard for about the only time between "Never Leave Me" and "Touched", in her final scene with Andrew where she channels her uncertainty ("I hate giving speeches about how we're all gonna live because we're not!") to make Andrew face reality.
WillianTheB-Ah, see that I can agree with.

waxbanks-You're the only one I see here who's upset. The fact is that these discussions are going to keep popping up from time to time because the Buffy/Angel fandom is still growing. There are a lot of newer fans who came to the fandom from DVD sales who are just as eager to engage in conversation about the characters/plots/writing/seasons as the older fans were and they tend to be a lot more reasonable than we were back in the day. There was a post on Seeing Red not too long ago that I linked on the Herald. It was the most civil discussion on the subject I'd ever seen.

To repeat: this is a fun exercise but not worth getting upset about. That's all.


Nobody's upset... I don't think. But a sloppy plot is a sloppy plot, and IMO S7 is a sloppy plot, and why not chat about it here? I feel like someone often pops into threads I'm finding interesting to say why are you all talking about this? and I don't really get that. Because it's fun? Because we're interested? Because that's what this forum is for?

At day's end, all that matters with such a plot is that most viewers buy into it - and that everyone buys into it emotionally, i.e. that it makes sense in terms of characters' choices.


I sort of agree with that. Mostly. Except that as far as Chosen goes, I didn't buy it, emotionally or otherwise, and it made no sense to me in terms of characters. Or... what the others just said above ;).
So I feel as if I've come across as hating S7 and the writers but I don't, so here's some great stuff about S7:

-Andrew. His arc was a plus for me, since I love how BtVS takes characters we never thought would be important in the slightest and surprises us. I mean, when we first met Andrew as "Tucker's brother" who at all thought he'd become part of the Scooby Gang? No one at all. I thought his gradual transition from loser-"villain"-weakling-hostage-guestage-real person-Scooby Member was very well done. I do wish he'd come out already, though. There aren't really any gay guys on BtVS and as a gay male, I'd like there to be.

-Though I loved S6 and its total darkness, I really liked seeing Buffy happy again for the first half of S7. The way she, Xander, and Dawn became closer as a little unit was nice.

-The new high school was so shiny!

-One great thing about The First was that it enabled us to see some old characters again, and I'm mainly thinking of Drusilla and The Mayor (plus the whole Big Bad sequence from "Lessons").

-Dawn finally got to become pretty solid in her own right, and not just be the one they protected or saved from stuff. She was pretty funny and cool when they finally treated her like part of the gang.

-I love the reference-fest it became. They totally gave up on winning over new viewers and it was rewarding to long-time fans. In "Selfless" when Willow had a thinking face then started rummaging around for something I remember my first reaction when watching it, being all "Hey, I bet she's looking for that D'hoffryn talisman from way back--AWESOME!!" And how I found "Him" hilarious from the moment Dawn saw RJ in his jacket, as she was acting just like the ladies under Xander's love spell from S2. I could list all the references, but you know them. One more--"The Earth is definitely doomed" :)


Okay, that's just some stuff I liked about S7.
And how much did Robin Wood rock? And the return of Faith? And every single moment of Conversations with Dead People? It's my least favorite season by a lot, but I wouldn't give it back. Too much yum.
I loved the retcon of Wood being Nikki's son. That was great stuff. Plus, he wasn't too hard on the eyes:) His fight with Spike should have been shirtless, on both their parts, but then I suppose that'd be a different kind of show...

And Converstations With Dead People...well, where to start? The whole thing was fascinating to watch, and it's got such an amazing quadruple-gut-punch ending, with the Spike killing/Dawn finally seeing Joyce just to get a mysterious and cryptic warning/Willow's face-off with the First/and Jonathan dying. The exact moment where Willow realizes Cassie isn't Cassie and something deeply wrong is going on, that look on Willow's face, it gets me every time. Not to mention the excellent use of Angie Hart.
Oh god - Willow slowly standing up and saying "Who are you?" is one of my all-time favoritest spine-chilling moments in the whole show!!! What's the name of the actress who played the First in that scene? She was so, so good.

And Robin Wood should have been shirtless in every scene.
I have to say that Buffy's plan doesn't make sense... but Buffy's tactics almost never make sense. Minimal recon, and it's usually focused around her charging in and kicking ass. Since she's usually the strongest one in town, that usually works. Up against Caleb she finally used her enemy's strength against him, but even when dealing with Glory her methods were basically "Slayer smash!"

That said... again and again and again it's shown that for Buffy, what matters most is not her tactical know-how but her spirit. How many times do we see her get beat when she's emotionally weak, then pull together and come back to win? "The Freshman" springs to mind as the archetypical example: the first time I saw it, when Buffy was limping around campus after Sunday whupped her, I knew Xander was going to come back and cheer her up. Which is what happened. So in the logic of the show -- which has never needed to follow the logic of the real world, and in fact was great mostly because it didn't -- a triumphal empowering at the most dramatic moment possible would just about guarantee that all the newly-called Slayers in "Chosen" would be operating at peak strength.

I point you to two other examples already mentioned: Olaf's hammer and "The Zeppo." The "troll god" line makes no sense, but as Spring Summers pointed out a while back over at Soulful Spike Society, Olaf's hammer represents the Id. Therefore both Glory and Spike -- two very Id-driven creatures -- simply can't handle the hammer at all, while Buffy wields it with ease. Then, in "The Zeppo," the bomb clock quite obviously ticks past the seconds shown -- and then the timer even audibly slows down. It's almost certainly a conscious decision on the part of the show creators to remind us that this is a TV show.

To sum up: the Buffyverse is a fictional universe that's very, very self-aware -- and it's been demonstrated time and time again that the most inspiring and dramatic method of dealing with the bad guys will usually work the best, unless it's going to be a funny failure.

I find this explains a lot.

(Let me also second the Conv. w/Dead People and Robin Wood love.)
Season 7 is my least favorite by a long shot, too, but I love Chosen. Willow finally learning how to wield her power, Buffy finally released from her "chosen one" status, Spike's redemption, Sunnydale disappearing into a big crater--all very satisfying for me.
catherine: The actress who played Cassie Newton is Azura Skye.
I was prepared to disagree with the article, but others have already done it so well, I'll just settle to agreeing with KingofCretins, Snot Monster and most others.

About Chosen, it's still pretty good ending episode. Even with all the many failures it ends with the perfect tone, great ideas but unfortunate execution. I wonder if it would be better to 'watch' the first 40 minutes of the episode eyes closed and loudly singing 'laa laa laa laa', and then tune in for the last minute or two... :)
Point #2 seems to have been the one causing most controversy. I have to dispute KoC's numbers; the scenes of the Slayers evacuating the Hellmouth never once showed a long establishing shot where you could count them all to establish how many survived. Sure, in meta terms they probably didn't want to pay the extras for another day of filming; but we can't say that just because we didn't see them, they weren't there (just off-camera). So "8 survived" is pure assumption: we only actually see two Slayers get killed.

As for what we do see:
1. The Ubervamps attack.
2. The Potentials become Slayers and kick their collective ass.
3. The Ubervamps start losing their enthusiasm for the battle. Some of them run away, others slip up the stairs. Someone shouts out "They're retreating!"
4. There's a brief moment of crisis when things look like they might be going wrong. Amanda and another Slayer are killed, Buffy and Faith are knocked down.
5. The First comes to gloat, but Buffy defies It and gets up again and back into the battle. So does Faith. The First disappears.
6. There's an extended scene of Slayers killing one vampire after another while the backing music swells to a triumphant crescendo. I counted: they're killing one vampire on average every four seconds, with no losses.

My reading of cinematic convention is that the final scene means "They're going to win!", not "They're pretty clearly losing the fight!" But it seems not everybody agrees with me. :-)
A lot of this thread is down to how you feel about season 7 I think, most posters (in this thread) seem not too enamoured, I thought it was patchy but not bad.

I agree about the winning/amulet though I do think you can make an argument both ways. To me though, it's fairly plain we're meant to think they're winning/going to win (Buffy stands, Faith throws off her attackers, the music swells etc. - these are all film/TV short-hand for "The tide of battle turns"). But fair point, based purely on the logistics, the plan was a bust as soon as we saw the thousands of ubervamps - scythe or not, Willow of the White or not, activated Potentials or not, a hand-to-hand fight with odds of 100-1 just isn't winnable IMO (they might've been killing one every 4 seconds with no losses for a few minutes, can they keep that up constantly for hours on end, making less than 30 mistakes ? Got my doubts).

It's equally plain to me that we're meant to think Buffy isn't herself when she's making the grand, boring speeches, we're not meant to be on her side at that point, we're meant to think she's become that which she (and the show) have punctured at every turn up to then i.e. a pompous ass. It's not taking the piss out of the character or the writers, it's taking the piss out of what the character is becoming (the Haig style autocratic General that treats people as pieces on a board). She's feeding them all a line basically and we're meant to see through it, just like Andrew does in his way.

So in summary:

1. Good fan-wank, no reason at all to think it's true but I like the idea.
2. They clearly didn't defeat the army (despite what Spike says about 'mop up') though, as above, you could make a case they would have eventually, possibly after a 'strategic withdrawal' to the natural bottleneck formed by the hellmouth seal (that's my own personal feeling).
3. Not really. A war against huge odds is surely better fought guerilla style from a tactical/strategic stand-point (not that i'm an expert by any stretch, it just seems to be what's worked historically) ? And Rorke's Drift ? Where the odds weren't as high, the professional soldiers were defending a fortified position and it was mostly rifles vs spears (or antiquated rifles or even muskets) ? Not really a valid comparison IMO. Speaking of which though, what happened to "That was then, this is now" i.e. why not use modern weapons ?
4. Fair point, even if it's the military victory that actually matters.
5. Agreed.
6. No reason to think this at all that I can see.
7. Agreed.
8. Mostly true IMO.
9. True, even if the Slayer power is demonic. Parts of season 4 and 5 seemed to be suggesting that the Slayer is, in her own way, every bit the predator that vampires are but AFAIK it wasn't really developed/resolved (or maybe defeating Dracula was part of Buffy realising that she might be but she still knew which side of the fence she was on).
10. Purely a matter of opinion (on balance this is what I think but there's also no doubt it was non-consensual and that most of those women would never have become Slayers or had to deal with that sort of power/responsibility).
There's at least two shots of a very small group of Slayers helping each other through the hall and then out of the building when Giles calls them. It is never shown nor implied that more than those have gotten out aside from Faith and Buffy. In terms of identifying them, it was looking around for interviews and so on (apparently it was Joss at some point who confirmed that Chao-Ahn had survived). There sure aren't 18 or 19 Slayers on that bus, which is mostly empty and being a smaller bus, is only going to hold 30 to 40 people anyway (i.e., would have been nearly full when they arrived).

In any instance, the casualty rate for Slayers in the hellmouth was catastrophic -- higher than the casualty rate for the Allies on D-Day.
Well spotted King. I hadn't noticed that. :0
It is never shown nor implied that more than those have gotten out

Nor is it ever shown or implied that all the people we don't actually see on screen were killed - especially since we saw several long-shots of the Slayers fighting and there was a distinct lack of bodies on the ground. (We see about three turok-han biting and clawing at something on the ground, in approximately the place where Buffy saw Amanda get killed, and that's it. Interestingly, that seems to confirm what we saw in 'End Of Days', that when turok-han kill someone they stay there worrying at the corpse instead of moving on to the next victim.)

Put simply, you're making an assumption based on a lack of evidence. If Joss had wanted to show that the casualties were as heavy as you claim, he could have included a tear-jerking long pan down the inside of the bus showing all the empty seats, or all the dead Slayers on the ground in the Hellmouth. Instead, he carefully avoids any scene that would allow us to count the casualties. Leaving us to draw our own conclusions...
@stormweath

Yeah, but that probably would have gone against the happy feeling he wanted for the end of the show. The evidence we have shows, that over half the slayers that went into the hellmouth came back out. The bus was nearly empty, and the evidence seems to be greatly in favor of less surviving than more surviving.
To acknowledge that there's something inherently (and wonderfully) OTT about our heroine giving grand, moving speeches about honour and sacrifice is simply to say "you know, however well we do this stuff, from a certain angle it's going to seem overblown" -- The Zeppo's joke about Buffy and Angel once again doing overdramatic soap opera is a joke not at the genre's expense but at the writers': "we've so lost track of how to write these characters that we've not been able to think of anything else for them to do than talk about eternal love and God knows what"

My point being that your argument can be fit to suit whatever the particular viewer happens to like or dislike.


Except that my way round made sense and this way around it doesn't. You just bleeped over the point I was making about one element (the melodramatic romantic declarations) being inherent to the genre conventions that the series is working within and the other element (Buffy's tedious tirades) not being. There simply is no "the hero will make tedious speeches" convention.

"Who says we don't live in a soap opera" is funny, because it nods wryly at the conventions within which the series operates. "Who says we don't live in a badly plotted series" wouldn't be funny because it would simply be an admission of poor writing. See the difference?

As to the argument that Buffy's tiresome speechifying was in some way an important piece of character development. Frankly I think that's something of a fanwank, although--to complicate the point--I think it's a fanwank that the writers themselves ultimately adopted. When Buffy first starts making these speeches I can see nothing at all in their content or their context that is meant to make us think that they are inappropriate or that they betray some kind of character flaw. If the writers had been going down that road they needed to have somebody voice that opinion on screen. A cocked eyebrow, a "don't we have more important things to do than to make speeches?" comment--whatever.

I think they themselves got stuck in this mode, realized they'd thrashed it to death, and belatedly tried to fudge up the "Buffy deals with crisis of leadership" plot line that culminates in the appallingly undermotivated events of "Empty Places."

ETA: just a quick extra point: the great problem, for me, with the argument that the arc of S7 is somehow about Buffy losing herself in the leadership role and then learning and growing etc. etc. is that there is no visible difference between Buffy's leadership methods early in the season, in the middle of the season, and at the end of the season.

Ignoring the whole problem that Buffy-as-leader has been pretty well-worked territory in prior seasons, and that we're actually meant to have been pretty consistently impressed with her leadership abilities, let's assume that that slate is wiped clean and that this series really is about "Buffy learns to be a leader." Well...what does she learn? What's the difference between the attack she supposedly 'botched' and the attack that was a success? What, come to that, is the difference between the attacks Buffy lead and the attack that Faith (elected to be the anti-Buffy) leads?

If this really was the "theme" of the series, one has to say that the writers just didn't figure out how they wanted to convey it, or what they wanted to say about the nature of leadership through it.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-01-30 18:49 ]
What lack of evidence? Unless you're proposing that the *majority* of Slayers that survived the fight did so going the Amy route, they died. Again, look at the bus. Assuming that *nobody* died besides Amanda, Anya, Spike, and the unidentified asian Slayer, that means that 30 went in, 26 came back out. That size bus seats no more than 40 people (a full size school bus, which that isn't, tops out between 60 and 80 kids, and that's if they are three deep to a seat and full. Not carrying weapons, to say the least), and it's almost completely empty. Your intuition that that's a production error of some kind doesn't carry any more weight than the choice not to show the casualties that were clearly taking place.

Joss gave us the definitive scenes to count the casualties -- a half empty bus racing away from an expanding sinkhole.

I don't think of the mere fact of those casualties as ruining the victory -- D-Day was a win, after all -- but they do say enough for us to know that if over half the Slayers were apparently wiped out in a fight that was only 15 minutes long or so, there is just no way to argue that they would have killed *all* those ubervamps themselves without the amulet. You say, conservatively, low thousands of ubervamps -- how many might they have killed? 100? 150, maybe? At the cost of half their force? And their lines were broken, since we saw a large number of ubervamps get past them.
Again, look at the bus.

I would, but we're never once shown a clear shot that would allow us to count how many people are in it. (Including injured or exhausted people slumped down in the seats or lying on the floor.) An absence I find interesting - and it's probably due to the fact that Joss didn't want to pay all the extras to come in for another day of filming, especially on a location shoot. So he simply never shows us clearly how many people are on the bus one way or another.

Sure, you can assume that the named, with-dialogue actors we see leaving the school really are the only ones to survive. But please don't claim that it's any less of an assumption than my own, that the others were there but off-camera.
Keeping in mind I ahven't seen s-7 yet to any real extent, but....

Really, Buffy has always had a very wide unlikeable streak; but, from t he reactions I've gotten elsehwere when I've psoted that, I guess the writers needed to amke it clear.

As to the involuntary aspect of the empwoerment of the Potnetials who weren't in the room with them, yes, but the fact is, inw ar and toehr emergencies, you can't get through it without doing some things which are, if you look at them in themsleves and in isoaltion, wrong. And the circumstances don't necessarily justify or excuse them, they simply require them to stop the totally intolerable. (sorry, I get too Bonhoeffer-y at times.)

And "The Gift," even with the set-up lines, still got alot of "How'd that happen?" reactions. Not from me but from many.
My "assumption" is based on the visible, not the invisible. It's enough for me. For some reason, I doubt that there are a dozen Slayers who've taken the time to get down on the floor between seats and in the aisle while the bus is speeding out of town. Or that they'd take too kindly to Vi stepping on them when she goes from seat to seat to check the wounded.
snot monster-Why do you say "Empty Places" is appallingly undermotivated?
snot monster-Why do you say "Empty Places" is appallingly undermotivated?

One skirmish goes badly and every single one of the Scoobies votes Buffy off the island? They all want Faith (someone they've had very good reason to be distrustful of) to be the new leader?

We just haven't seen anything at all up to that point that would make such a radical betrayal of character seem plausible.
Well, to step back from the specific happenings in the Buffyverse from "Chosen" you could really just look to the "Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest" commentary for an explanation as to the lack of visible dead bodies. Joss said in that commentary that while yes, in that post-fight shot of Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Giles at the Bronze they should have been standing amidst a few dead bodies (at least) it would have taken away from the somewhat victorious and happy feeling he wanted to achieve.

It's plainly clear that in "Chosen" most of the people who started the fight didn't live through it, but the feeling Joss wanted to achieve was more of a bittersweet victory post-battle and not to dwell on the death. I'd say that was a good decision on his part, though where all the problems really come into play would be the total lack of sense, logic, etc going into "Chosen" in the first place so it's really too little, too late to try and make sense of things by that point.

The last half of S7 was just poorly plotted and carried out, for the most part, and aside from everyone reasoning away the holes in their own way (I know I did) there is no "explanation" for what happened and if you delve into the "whys" too much you'll be more and more dissatisfied.

EDIT: I have to agree about "Empty Places" and the craziness of Faith (FAITH!!!) being elected leader. I could understand the idiot potentials going in for that, as they were generally brainless, but for Willow, Xander, Giles, Dawn, and Anya to throw in with that was--here I go again--poor writing.

[ edited by Dhoffryn on 2009-01-30 18:56 ]
waxbanks: At day's end, all that matters with such a plot is that most viewers buy into it - and that everyone buys into it emotionally

I addressed this point before when I talked about how the "emotional" logic depends in part on the "nuts and bolts" logic of the plot. There's a brilliant sketch by Mitchell and Webb that makes this point really well, I think. It features two lazy TV writers who are writing a TV Medical Drama but can't be bothered doing any research into actual medical practice, because all that matters to them is the emotional truths. The thing that interests me about the skit is that in a sense, they're right. When we hear medical doctors rattling off latinate names, we really have no way of knowing (for the most part) if what they're saying is real or completely bogus. But it matters enormously for the emotional credibility of the story that the audience is given a plausible-enough sounding illness and plausible-enough forms of treatment/complications/embarrassing revelations that need to be made in order to treat the illness etc. etc. If we begin to feel that the characters are not operating in a world with real limits and real risks and real rewards, then we can't really care about their struggles, their defeats, or their triumphs. Anway, here's a link to the clip. Enjoy.
Except, conversely, for us doctors when we see those false medical conditions get named, they immediately diminish our (my) emotional investment. This happens to me regularly when I watch House, and hear them offer some condition which patently the patient cannot have. But your point is well taken- are we writing for verisimilitude or for emotional impact?

As to Empty Places, I completely agree with SMFOS; that episode ranks in my mind among the worst the series ever broadcast because it just did not make any sense.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-01-30 19:59 ]
Except, conversely, for us doctors when we see those false medical conditions get named, they immediately diminish our (my) emotional investment.

I don't think that's "conversely" at all--I think that was exactly my point; except that obviously the writers only have to worry about typical audience knowledge rather than specialist knowledge. Of course, there's always going to be some part of the audience you won't be able to satisfy with "good enough" phlebotnin. Funnily enough, the point is made in a Buffy ep (which one is it? Somewhere in S4, I think, because Riley's there) where Buffy, Riley and the Scoobies are watching an action film and Buffy is saying "Oh, come on, first he'd take out the guy on the right and...."

I think it's fair enough for a medical show to offer false-but-plausible diseases, even if it blows their M.D. audience's sense of suspension of disbelief. What they can't do is have a disease that in Act I "can only be transmitted by direct contact with an infected person's blood" but in Act III gets contracted by the doctor's young daughter because he kissed her goodnight when he came home. Nor can they have a disease that is so vaguely described (a la "he's poorly") that we just don't understand what the stakes are for the characters. That's the point at which problems with the "nuts and bolts" become problems with the "emotional truths."
Well, anything that violates the willing suspension of disbelief, right?
I disagree completely that Empty Places is undermotivated. There were enough sparks there to start a fire with the right conditions. Every Scoobie has underlying tensions with Buffy before the arguing even starts. Anya is resentful about how Buffy has given Spike a pass, but not her, and more importantly, has one-eyed Xander right in front of her. Faith and Buffy have issues dating back for years, Wood has been threatened with death by Buffy if he tries to go near Spike. Giles thinks that Buffy is letting her feelings for Spike blind her and has been shut out of Buffy's life at that point. Xander hasn't emotionally recovered from his injury and Buffy's guilt has kept her from comforting him at the hospital. So there's a window there for Xander to be swayed by events into not supporting Buffy. Dawn has been sucking it up, but feels left out and ignored by Buffy, who also won't talk to her about how Xander's doing. Xander, the guy who sees her, gets her and that she feels closest to at the time of the episode, whose lead she's likely to follow. Willow has the fewest issues with Buffy, even though Buffy walked out on them at the hospital. But she's questioned Buffy's judgement before.

And it's Buffy's judgement that is the sticking point way before the mutiny begins. She is proposing going back to the same place where several Potentials died, where Xander lost an eye, where the only three Scoobs with power (Willow is still sidelined at this point) barely escaped with their lives. Hardly just a skirmish. She doesn't suggest a different way to do it, just a similar assault, based on her intuition that the bad guys are protecting something.

Faith, Wood, and Giles, whatever their underlying motivations, bring up totally reasonable objections to the plan -too risky, too nebulous an objective. Buffy's response is to say that she's always been right in the past and to trust her, and to accuse Giles of sending Spike away to ambush her. This is totally the wrong way to answer the objections. She's brought Spike into it, which allows Rona the malcontent and Kennedy the alpha-female-wannabe an opening. It leads Willow to say that she's worried about Buffy's judgement.

And at this moment, Buffy pushes it to the brink. She tells them that they need someone to be reckless sometimes, to give them orders and not take their feelings into account. She's the boss and everyone is to follow orders. Then, and only then, do the dominoes begin to fall. If she'd backed off or gone about it differently the rebellion would never have taken place. Everything Buffy said was forcing resentments to the surface.

With Faith there, they have an alternative. Faith's past is irrelevant at that moment of rising anger. Feelings begin to supercede everything else and Buffy is ousted. The mutiny isn't totally logical. It reminds me of arguments I've had that got out of hand. The underlying motivations of the Scoobs in and of themselves would not have led to what happened. But with Buffy fanning the flames and another option available the escalating anger forced the issue.

I think the whole melt-down was beautifully done.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-01-30 23:18 ]
Yeah, they're so outraged by Buffy proposing going back to the same place where several Potentials died that the very next thing they do is go back to the same place where several Potentials died. And then, because that failed, they let a totally unrepentant and unchanged Buffy come back and lead them to the same place where several Potentials died. And it turns out to be the right thing to do. Ta-dah!

Not that this directly contradicts your read of the emotional "logic" of the scene--which, I think, is pretty astute. I think you're right that these are, broadly, the things that the writers want us to understand as motivating the Schoobies actions. The problem is that if we buy it, we also have to buy the idea that the Schoobies are uniformly the most childish, irresponsible, self-centred losers it's ever been our misfortune to know.

You're right that in the heat of the argument we say and do stupid things. If this was a case of one or all of the Scoobies simply blurting out "you're losing your mind!" or something, then your account would be fine. But these guys have the fate of the world in their hands. They're not having an argument about what color sofa to buy or what movie to watch on the TV that night. Buffy's the frikken' slayer. When she says that they've had to ride the coattails of her intuitions (dream visions etc.) in the past she's pointing to a damn well proven track-record. And they don't just blurt something out in the heat of argument. They hold a vote. They take their time. And they then watch her walk out of the house (yay! one less slayer on board--that will have to help!).

Sure Buffy feels guilty about Xander's eye, and that is understandable, but she's completely wrong to feel such guilt. Xander knew the risks. Everybody (not just Buffy, but everybody) has been going on for weeks about how "some of us will die" and how "this isn't fun and games." Etc. etc. So then a couple of people do actually die and you all have a series of hissy fits and fire the goddamn Slayer???

If the mission she'd lead them on had been one that they had all violently opposed beforehand (yes, they raise doubts--doubts which in fact largely turn out to be wrong [i.e. they're doubts about whether or not Caleb actually has "something of Buffy's"]--but which of Buffy's plans in the past haven't had doubts raised about them? And Xander makes a long speech about how it would be wrong to doubt Buffy and how they must all band together behind her; a speech we're apparently meant to take with an unsaid "oh, but we'll abandon her at the very first setback, of course"), or if she'd caused the deaths (and the eye-loss) by some obvious tactical blunder, there might be some point to all of this. But basically you have a bunch of whiny children being wise after the event. It just trashes everything we ever thought we knew about Giles, Dawn, Xander and Willow (Anya, I'll grant you, could easily do such a thing).

No, it's the worst example I have ever seen of sacrificing character consistency just to arrange a juicy "dramatic moment."
I don't consider Buffy going back to the vineyard in "Touched" proof that "she was right" in "Empty Places". Buffy went in alone, avoided a fight, and outsmarted Caleb. That wasn't her plan in "Empty Places". Her plan in "Empty Places" was to do everything that had just gotten her ass kicked.
SMFOS:
Yeah, they're so outraged by Buffy proposing going back to the same place where several Potentials died that the very next thing they do is go back to the same place where several Potentials died.

You know, I get that you don't like the season, but you should really go back and re-watch this episode after taking a good, deep breath because that's not what they do. Faith and the Potentials head to a sewer tunnel on the north side of town. It's Buffy who goes back to the vineyard.
Faith and the Potentials do go to a sewer and not the vineyard, but then a whole bunch of them get blown up. I'd wager that more girls died in that explosion than the couple (maybe few) who got killed at the vineyard:)

I can understand Shambleau's POV in regards to the argument and their motivations for having issues, but I agree with SMFOS in that the whole reason for the fight in "Empty Places" came out of some cooked up plot necessity and not from the characters.

Also, just because it's on my mind, Buffy didn't want to be responsible for all those people. Giles showed up and dumped this all on her (at one point saying "Buffy [is] our plan") so it was all kind of ridiculous. Buffy's forced into the leader position with all those people's lives dependant on her, counting on her, so she actually decides to treat them all like adults and not the deficient teenagers they are (her mistake, I guess), including them in the "war room" meetings and discussions, and training them so they can not be helpless wastes of space and their gratitude is to bitch and moan that they have to help. Though the majority were just background people, most of the ones who actually had parts acted like such a bunch of entitled, unlikeable jerks that it was hard to root for them.

At one point Rona actually said something in regards to Spike being around like "Buffy kept him in our house knowing how dangerous" blah blah. "Our" house? Huh. So, in her head she apparently considered herself on equal footing with everyone, yet whenever it was time to do something and not just take up space she chimed in with "Buffy's crazy" "Buffy doesn't care" etc or some very helpful eye-rolling. It may be clear, but I loathe to the core the character of Rona. She had no redeeming qualities, ZERO, and any time she spoke I wanted someone to break her face.
As others have said, SNFOS, Faith doesn't take them anywhere where Potentials have died. The arsenal is in the tunnels at the end of town. Neither does Buffy. And without Faith, who is unconscious, turning back to Buffy hardly seems irrational. It in fact follows from the mutiny being propelled mainly by emotion and stress that they're willing to go back to their two remaining strongest fighters, Spike and Buffy. What else can they do, anyway? Besides, most of the scoobs did not think that Buffy was out of the fight, on the outcome of which they fully recognize that the fate of the world rests. They thought they'd sidelined her for a while.

And they weren't throwing a hissy fit over the losses. They were grieving them, and celebrating Xander's survival, and Buffy takes that moment to say they're going to do the exact same thing again, and makes every objection out to be an attack on her. It was that decision, not the losses, that caused the revolt.

As for the original mission, the doubts raised were far from wrong. It's a mis-representation to say the only objections raised were whether Caleb had something of hers. Both Xander and Faith say it's a trap. Giles says that going in without knowing anything about Caleb is foolhardy and they need more time to plan and scout out the situation. Buffy blows off all objections and ridicules Giles by saying he should stay back with the girls who still need a teacher. She wants a fight and doesn't, as she says, even care what Caleb has of hers. I think, tactically,it's true she didn't blunder. She did as good a job as possible, actually, once she'd made the decision to go in. But the decision itself was questionable, it was questioned and the objections were ignored.

So, from their point of view, Buffy's decision-making had already shown her to be fallible, track record or no. Which, by the way, is not as spotless as you make out. Giles lost Jenny because Buffy couldn't bring herself to kill Angel. It was Giles who came up with the idea on how to kill Adam, not Buffy. Xander came up with how to kill the Judge. They have reason to believe that they can come up with ways to fight evil which are as valid as Buffy's. They've opposed Buffy before when they thought she was wrong, such as hiding Angel's return from them. And there's Faith as back-up. I think their actions are perfectly consistent with how they've acted before and with the situation as it seems to them now.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-01-31 02:11 ]

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-01-31 03:53 ]
Dhoffryn:
Faith and the Potentials do go to a sewer and not the vineyard, but then a whole bunch of them get blown up. I'd wager that more girls died in that explosion than the couple (maybe few) who got killed at the vineyard:)

Regardless of whether that may or may not be true (and probably is; there looked to be at least three or four dead in the sewer), it was not "the very next thing they do is go back to the same place where several Potentials died". It's one thing to argue a POV based on things that actually happened. Arguing it based on things that didn't actually happen doesn't exactly help make the case for that POV.

And I agree with you about Rona. They should have tossed her to the Turok-han to keep it busy while the rest of them split...
Except that my way round made sense and this way around it doesn't. You just bleeped over the point I was making about one element (the melodramatic romantic declarations) being inherent to the genre conventions that the series is working within and the other element (Buffy's tedious tirades) not being. There simply is no "the hero will make tedious speeches" convention.

"Who says we don't live in a soap opera" is funny, because it nods wryly at the conventions within which the series operates. "Who says we don't live in a badly plotted series" wouldn't be funny because it would simply be an admission of poor writing. See the difference?


But Snot if I were to agree with you I'd have to accept a fairly arbitrary distinction between jokes about genre (funny!) and jokes about other elements of the show including jokes at the expense of the characters (an admission by the writers that they're on the wrong track). When exactly is it that a joke about the characters (apart from what is dictated by genre) is an attack on the writers? Always? Just when the viewer doesn't happen to like the season? Or is there some way of knowing that you haven't told us?

I mean, let's look at season 4 of Angel (you've said it's your favourite season and it's my second favourite). Gunn says towards the end of it: "I spent most of this year trapped in what I can only describe as a turgid supernatural soap opera". Now that is much closer to your "who says we don't live in a badly plotted series" example than Andrew's joke about Buffy's speeches, but we wouldn't say the Angel writers were dismissing one of the best seasons they ever did. You might try to dismiss Gunn's comment as part of a joke at the expense of the show's genre but it's not. It's more obviously a joke about the way season 4 changed the show within the genre (becoming 24-like etc.) and that interpretation is strengthened by Gunn saying 'this year'. Besides, he doesn't just say he lives in a 'supernatural soap opera' but in a 'turgid' one and that's usually a derogatory term

Going back to Andrew's joke: I said that the it came at a point when the writers weren't expecting us to sympathise with Buffy to which you responded that you thought the writers had meant her speechiness to be taken seriously and not seen as a character flaw but then changed their mind. We can't know this for sure (perhaps the writers wanted to show her speeches to be fine at first but then getting out of hand; probably noone here would have complained if it had just been that first speech) but even if you're right, so what? 'Buffy' has quite often turned its flaws into new stories eg. Riley was supposed to be embraced by fans but when he wasn't the writers turned the story into one about how Buffy has trouble loving a normal man. My point is that if the writers originally intended the audience to take Buffy's speeches seriously and then changed their mind, Andrew's joke still fits in with what the writers were trying to do at the time. It wasn't a criticism of the writers
FYI, I'm not the one who said Faith took the Potentials back to the vineyard the very next day. I didn't argue for that or defend it in the slightest, I said that statement was incorrect but instead Faith led the potentials into a deadlier trap than what happened at the vineyard--and if it weren't for Buffy showing up with the scythe then even more potentials would have died.

In fairness to Buffy, she was personally attacked before she lost her cool. Watch the scene again if you have to.

I'm sorry, but when did I make it seem that Buffy's decision making record was spotless? I could list poor decisions that Giles, Willow, Xander, Dawn, etc have made over the years as they're all human and those who aren't human are still not perfect. Also, it's not a one-way street. Buffy assumes leadership because everyone counts on her all the time, turns to her over and over, and defaults to Buffy. Then, when she does things they don't like their reaction is to jump down her throat and complain that she's the boss. That's reasonable.

The end result of kicking Buffy out of her own house was pretty dumb on their part. There's no way they could know Buffy would return to the fold so soon, and the ungrateful brats even turn on Faith after the explosion and Buffy defends her which just goes to show that there was no winning with them at all. No matter what Buffy did she was going to get crap for it.

That's not the point, though, the point is that the whole fight was out of character for many of the main characters, Buffy herself included by a certain point. It was constructed and forced and out of nowhere, like most of the second half of S7.
Sorry, Dhoffryn, if I'm the one you're referring to, my comments about Buffy's decision-making record were not directed at you, but what SMFOS posted a bit upthread. Slow typer.

I agree with you that the results of booting Buffy were dumb. That wasn't the focus of my posts, just whether the Scoobs actions and emotions stemmed logically from what the writers had set up and were in character. On that, it's obviously YMMV-Enormously. I agree on some of S7's other flaws, too, but have to part company on Empty Places.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-01-31 03:52 ]
Woah. I didn't realize my question would spark an "Empty Places" debate. Lots of replies I'll have to scroll up to read. :)

I actually asked snot monster that question for a reason. I'd just finished watching this week's episode of Leverage and it reminded me a lot of "Empty Places". (There was even a confrontation with the group leader, although it had a different outcome).

Do any of you watch the series?
As far as Empty Places goes, I think the concept was fine and I even think the Scoobies and the potentials were right to take leadership away from Buffy. She was about to get them all killed. BUT I think the handling of it was absolutely woeful. It could have been a great scene and I think there were good emotional reasons for the Scoobies to turn on her (in addition to them being right as I said above). So how did that turn into that stagey and unnatural mutiny scene? I especially can't stand Dawn's 'I need you to leave' bit
I agree if the whole argument had been handled better it could have been doable, but like you said, Let Down, it just comes across as unnatural and left me mostly just angry at everyone who wasn't Buffy. On paper their reasons could have been understandable, but they come across as so petty and unfair to her.

The fact is that, for me, I could forgive a lot of what happens in S7 if it weren't for the Potentials. They are THE bane of the run of the show and for the whole ending to be soured with their infuriating presence disappoints me. The knowledge that I'll have to end this great series with them every time just puts me in a bad mood.

Once the potentials show up in episode 10 of S7 we literally don't get a break from them. The way Kennedy just pushes her way into the core group, stays there, and proceeds to act like her opinion is always relevant and everything she has to say is important is maddening. She treats no one with any respect, talks about Willow's magic like it's a birthday party joke, and no one in the show ever, EVER, has any "Hey, who the hell do you think you are?" moment with her.

Between her and Rona...ugh, I just hate them both so much.
Faith and the Potentials head to a sewer tunnel on the north side of town. It's Buffy who goes back to the vineyard.

Thanks for the correction, Rowan. You're quite right, of course. Lucky for me it makes absolutely no difference to my argument.

She was about to get them all killed.

How so? What difference is there between her leadership and Faith's? Or between her leadership before the sacking and after?

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-01-31 06:49 ]
But Snot if I were to agree with you I'd have to accept a fairly arbitrary distinction between jokes about genre (funny!) and jokes about other elements of the show including jokes at the expense of the characters (an admission by the writers that they're on the wrong track).

No, I'm asking you to accept a pretty solid distinction between jokes about genre and jokes at the expense of characters. One of them is a joke about genre; the other is a joke about the character.

Now, are there good jokes to be made about character? Sure. My point was that this was a joke that signaled trouble: either the writers had failed to adequately make the point they were trying to make with Buffy's speeches prior to that scene (i.e., they had meant to convey that the character was being annoyingly preachy, but hadn't adequately distinguished that from just writing annoyingly preachy speeches: it might be remembered, for example, that the very speech Buffy gives that precipitates her getting voted off the island in "Empty Places" (you shouldn't be out partying, this is serious business etc.) is the one that Giles gave a few episodes earlier in "First Date"). OR it means that they'd suddenly thought "geez, haven't these speeches we've been writing been a drag? Wouldn't it be hilarious to point out how dreary they are? Either way, it's a sign of bad writing.
As for the original mission, the doubts raised were far from wrong. It's a mis-representation to say the only objections raised were whether Caleb had something of hers. Both Xander and Faith say it's a trap. Giles says that going in without knowing anything about Caleb is foolhardy and they need more time to plan and scout out the situation. Buffy blows off all objections and ridicules Giles by saying he should stay back with the girls who still need a teacher. She wants a fight and doesn't, as she says, even care what Caleb has of hers. I think, tactically,it's true she didn't blunder. She did as good a job as possible, actually, once she'd made the decision to go in. But the decision itself was questionable, it was questioned and the objections were ignored.

XANDER
I've been through more battles with Buffy than you all can ever imagine. She's stopped everything that's ever come up against her. (Buffy and Faith walk through the front door and overhear Xander's speech) She's laid down her life - literally - to protect the people around her. This girl has died two times, and she's still standing. You're scared? That's smart. You got questions? You should. But you doubt her motives, you think Buffy's all about the kill, then you take the little bus to battle. (Buffy tears up) I've seen her heart, and this time - not literally. And I'm telling you, right now, she cares more about your lives than you will ever know. You gotta trust her. She's earned it.
Andrew and Dawn are crying.
FAITH
Damn. I never knew you were that cool. (everyone turns to look at Buffy and Faith)
BUFFY
Well, you always were a little slow.
FAITH
I get that now.


I'm still not seeing the "oh, but p.s.--if for once she's riding the wrong hunch we should just kick her to the curb."

She "ridicules" Giles? Giles had just tried to get Spike killed. You remember Spike--the guy who does, actually, stop this season's particular apocalypse? I think she's showing Giles infinitely more patience, forgiveness and understanding than Giles manages to show her in the next episode.

Yes, Xander, Spike, Willow etc all say "it could be a trap." Buffy AGREES that it "could be a trap" and says that that is why she'll do some preliminary recon. No one says, though, "Buffy, this is the worst plan you've ever come up with. If I follow you, I'll do so under protest!" or anything remotely like it. They point out possible downsides, and then saddle up. Nor is the attack a particularly terrible catastrophe. Nor is it particularly different in planning and conception than any of the successful attacks that Buffy mounts that we're supposed to cheer on. (The final attack in "Chosen" has her leading a bunch of Potentials that she only hopes will become slayers down into the hellmouth to face a completely unknown threat. It's a far more foolhardy attack than the one in "Dirty Girls." And the rationale for both of them is essentially the same: "I'm tired of waiting for them to take the initiative."

If you can't tell the difference between "leadership so dire that you should be given the sack" and "leadership we are all supposed to be inspired by and cheer for" then the writers have, I'm afraid, failed to make the stakes of the situation clear.
SMFOS:
Faith and the Potentials head to a sewer tunnel on the north side of town. It's Buffy who goes back to the vineyard.

Thanks for the correction, Rowan. You're quite right, of course. Lucky for me it makes absolutely no difference to my argument.

I'm sorry - you present an argument on the basis that:
Yeah, they're so outraged by Buffy proposing going back to the same place where several Potentials died that the very next thing they do is go back to the same place where several Potentials died. And then, because that failed, they let a totally unrepentant and unchanged Buffy come back and lead them to the same place where several Potentials died. And it turns out to be the right thing to do. Ta-dah!

...and the fact that half your statement (actually more than half, since Buffy doesn't lead them back to the vineyard, either) is factually incorrect makes no difference to your argument? Hell, I wish I'd known earlier that factual arguments were irrelevant. Damned if I couldn't come up with some dandy explanations for everything. Live and learn, I guess...
This has been and continues to be a great discussion; but - and this is addressed at more than one person, - please let's not cross the line from vigorous debate into unpleasantness and rhetorical point-scoring, OK? Cheers.
And they don't just blurt out something in the heat of argument. They hold a vote. They take their time.

This quote is from further up the thread, but I forgot to respond to it. They don't hold a vote. It's merely suggested. Buffy leaves before that, after Dawn's speech. No time taken. After the angry speeches, Buffy's gone.

I'm still not seeing the "oh, but p.s.-if for once she's riding the wrong horse we should just kick her to the curb."

Perhaps because nobody actually thought or planned that? They are reacting in the heat of the moment. I don't think that makes them the irresponsible, childish, self-centered losers you think it does, obviously. If they believe that her riding the wrong horse will get many of them pointlessly killed, as had just happened, the loser label doesn't fit.

She "ridicules" Giles?

Why yes, yes she does. Whether Giles deserves it is not relevant if we're talking about why people turned on Buffy's plan to return to the winery. And that is what I'm talking about at least, not the rights and wrongs of it. Buffy here adds fuel to the future fire by giving Giles another psychological reason to oppose her, over and above his perfectly rational reasons.

Buffy AGREES that it "could be a trap" and says that is why she'll do some preliminary recon.

And when Buffy does the recon and Faith points out that the Bringer they're following, who is not trying to hide in any way, lends even more weight to the trap theory, Buffy doesn't care. She wants the fight anyway.

No one says, though, "Buffy, this is the worst plan you've ever come up with.If I follow you, I'll do so under protest!" They point out the possible downsides and then saddle up.

Agreed. But when the downsides predicted turn out to be all too real and Buffy still wants to repeat the same plan, that IS what they are saying, pretty much, until things escalate even more.

Nor is the attack a particularly terrible catastrophe.

From whose point of view? Xander's? Anya's? Dawn's? Willow's? For all four of them devastated by Xander's injury, I seriously doubt if, at the time of the mutiny, they were able emotionally to take your long view. Whether the failed attack wasn't particularly different from successful attacks was immaterial to the people affected by it and who were being asked to repeat it.
Basically, most of what shambleau's been saying. From about a third of the way through S7 we see Buffy become more callous, more pompous and aloof, more dour, more autocratic.

When she goes back alone to get the scythe she's quick and lithe both physically and verbally (we see the old, quippy, snarky Buffy back and she Crouching Tiger hidden Neos her way around the clearly physically stronger Caleb), she always has her eye on the objective (to find out what they have and take it/deprive them of it), she avoids a direct confrontation where previously she'd actively sought one out (IMO largely because of ego - like all fighters she doesn't like getting beat). And she wins. It's very clearly (to me) presenting the idea that Buffy was away for a while, lost in a role that doesn't suit her, and now she's back.

So a lot of what's said to her in 'Empty Places' is unfair and a lot of it does leave me/us feeling angry but it was still true - she was leading them to their deaths and worse than that, she didn't really seem to care, she was willing to throw them away like pawns and just expected them to toddle along at her back like obedient kids. She was, in short, treating them a lot like the Watchers Council had treated her, as instruments rather than people (when The Message was always precisely about not just following that sort of authority, about thinking for yourself, making your own choices). Faith also failing serves to show that it's not Buffy, it's the position (Faith starts to change too for instance becoming less the big sister and more the authoritarian Mum/leader to the Potentials, even in the short span of time that she's the alpha) and allows a way to bring Buffy back into the fold, it's a way to show that Buffy was wrong and made some mistakes but she's still the best there ever was.
My "overview" feeling about S7 is that the concept was better than the execution. But I've watched it three times now on DVD, and ended up liking it a whole lot more than I did at first.
My main point about the concept being better than the execution, revolves around the Potentials. Brilliant concept, inspired "wrap up" for Buffy's character arc (the power sharing). But the Potentials themselves are so majorly annoying. And very few of the eps (or parts of eps) that centered on them, were handled well.

What I've realized is that there were a number of really brilliant eps, starting as early as Beneath You and Selfless.

CWDP, Sleeper (my personal favorite ep of the season) and Never Leave Me were a perfect three-part arc.
The slow part of the season to me was not the final eps, but the (more or less) middle. Not much to love between Never Leave Me and Get It Done, an ep I feel to be highly underrated and that gets surprisingly little mention, considering how pivotal it is (Buffy's revelations in her encounter with the creators of the first slayer and the choice she made, which set up the direction of the rest of the season).

I find the final seven eps (from Storyteller on) to be overall very satisfying, with a real high point in LMPTM. I don't think anyone is totally satisfied with Chosen, which I also think is pretty much inevitable. But I've long since come to terms with the fact that I didn't get exactly the ending I wanted, and I've ended up feeling the same way about the final ep as I do about the season as a whole, that there's a lot more to love about it than not.
SoddingNancyTribe, sorry about that. I should know by now to not even get involved in these Season 6/7 discussions, but old habits die hard... Anyway - I don't disagree that there were problems with the execution; not least, that there were lines cut in a few scenes that really should have been left in for clarity's sake. Nonetheless, I do not by any stretch accept it as the disaster of "bad writing" that some people do. Here's what I see going on:

Neither side is thinking straight. With the possible exception of Robin Wood, who not-so-subtly manipulates the situation, and Faith, who's caught in the middle (I didn't think I'd ever sympathize with Faith - feel sorry for her, yes - but here I do. She wasn't angling for this at all.)

* Buffy is exhausted and demoralized. She hasn't slept in days, the girls who were looking to her for protection have been dropping like flies, she's had her ass handed to her four times since this started, and one of her closest friends has been maimed following her lead.

* Giles is exhausted and demoralized. He's been traveling around the world locating Potentials and getting them to Buffy. He's making mistakes and errors in judgment himself (and here's another area where Wood manipulated things behind the scenes, undermining Buffy for his own purposes) and he doesn't see any way of winning - or even surviving, for that matter. He's lost Buffy's trust, and lost his faith in her, as well.

* Xander is injured and demoralized. None of Buffy's friends has ever been hurt this badly and permanently. They've seen friends and acquaintances die, but they've always managed to escape serious injury. They've seen Buffy lose fights before, but she always came back quickly and won. She beat the Turok-han that whipped her twice, but Caleb just brushed her aside like a fly. Xander is shaken by his own injury, by seeing Buffy handled so easily, and by seeing Giles (whom he does respect, despite his gibes) at a loss.

* Willow is just plain demoralized. She's terrified of herself to start with; she's afraid of what can happen if she tries to use her powers (and with good reason; even though she's had some success with her spells so far, she's also had enough backfires to reinforce her concerns), and she's just seen her oldest friend get terribly injured. She's aware that Buffy is running on fumes at this point and not thinking clearly. And Willow is in a stall, herself; she doesn't know what to do or how to help, and she's lost.

* Anya has, for all intents and purposes, given up. She's human now, her vengeance demon powers having been withdrawn, she's scared, and she's just marking time until the end.

* The Potentials have damned good reason to be demoralized. These girls are not Slayers yet; some of them didn't even know anything about the Slayer until they found themselves hunted like animals. They're facing something they don't understand, and the ones who do know about the Slayer have just seen Buffy wiped across the floor like she was nothing.

Neither the Potentials nor Buffy's friends asked her to leave. Yes, Kennedy suggested they take a vote to see who thought Faith should have a turn at running things - a reasonable suggestion, since none of them really know either Buffy or Faith, and don't know anything other than what they've been told and what they're seeing now. But Buffy made the ultimatum that they follow or she leaves; clearly a wrong move on her part, but still, the only one in the room to call her on it is Dawn, and it seems to me it was as much to put a damper on the fight as anything else.

Faith made a mistake. It was, as Buffy said, something that could happen to anyone. Faith has always been a loner, and if Rona thinks Buffy is prone to running headlong into things, she should have been around when Faith first appeared. But part of the reason she made a mistake was not listening. Kennedy may be abrasive and aggressive, but she was also right about something: They needed to know more about Caleb, they needed to know more about what was going on. Relying on information gleaned from a being whose words indicate it's part of a hive with shared thoughts is what walked them right into a trap.

They're running out of time. And running out of options. They can hunker down and plan, and hide, and shake, but the longer they wait, the stronger the First's forces grow - time is on Its side, not theirs. They can run, but It was already killing Potentials all over the world; there was no place they could run that It couldn't follow and pick them off. In the end, what Buffy offers them is a chance. It may be a slim one, and it may go unspoken that they're not all going to survive, but y'know what?

Real World Scenario: If there's somebody waiting for me to stick my head outside so they can lop it off and they're going to kill me no matter what I do, then I'm going to take as many of them as I can with me. Period. If there's nothing left to lose, make it as expensive to the other side as you can. If it's possible to hole up and snipe, I'll do that. If not, and it means jump right in the middle and kill left and right until I go down, I'll do that. But I won't just sit and wait to die.
Rowan Hawthorn: I wish more people had more of your attitude on things. (Sorry, bad marriage flashbacks there.)

And are you saying Anya was by then in a quasi-suicidal place emtnally?
Pretty much, yeah, although I think by this time she'd even given up on that until the end when she decides she can at least go down fighting and make it mean something. After all, she'd tried to commit Suicide by Slayer and Suicide by D'Hoffryn and failed both attempts. She can't be a proper human, and she can't be a proper Vengeance Demon anymore; she lost the man she loved, lost her purpose, and for all intents, lost her identity. By "Empty Places", she's beyond caring about anything very much.

ET to correct stupid mistyping in episode title.

[ edited by Rowan Hawthorn on 2009-02-01 16:18 ]
...and the fact that half your statement (actually more than half, since Buffy doesn't lead them back to the vineyard, either) is factually incorrect makes no difference to your argument? Hell, I wish I'd known earlier that factual arguments were irrelevant. Damned if I couldn't come up with some dandy explanations for everything. Live and learn, I guess...

Try to put the "ha ha I caught you in a mistake" point-scoring aside for a second, Rowan. What difference does it make whether Faith leads the Potentials to the sewer or to the vineyard?

The point is that if we're supposed to think that the terrible, terrible error Buffy makes is that she leads the poor wee Potentials into a situation that might be a trap without doing sufficient recon to be sure then that is exactly what Faith immediately does. O.K.? The difference between "lets go back to the vineyard" and "let's go explore the sewers" is the difference between "phlebotnin" and "flebotnin"--in both cases its "lets go lead these girls into a situation we don't know that they'll be able to handle and where they might get killed."

Not only that, what Buffy lead them into in "Dirty Girls" wasn't, particularly, a "trap." Caleb did have "something of hers"--she just hadn't yet figured out a way to get past him to get it. When she eventually does go and get it it isn't because she has some new ultra-powerful weapon or because she's done more research into Caleb's weaknesses. She just tries a new tactic--one she could just as well have tried on the expedition that she was planning to lead the Potentials on (which, supposedly, would have "got them all killed").

On the other hand, Faith and Giles cook up a plan that does in fact lead the Potentials into a trap--getting a bunch of them horribly killed. They have no more reason to think that their plan will work than Buffy had to think her plan would work (hers did, ultimately, work--remember?). And Buffy handles Faith and Giles's failure with infinitely more class than either of them showed in "Empty Places." She--quite rightly--says that you can't blame the leaders for unforeseeable consequences. They're in a war (as we've been told ad infinitum)--there are bound to be casualties.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-01 01:41 ]
Shambleau: For all four of them devastated by Xander's injury, I seriously doubt if, at the time of the mutiny, they were able emotionally to take your long view.

Wait, they're devastated by Xander's injury? Xander's? He lost an eye! That's sad and all, but, really--given the situations he's been placed in for seven straight years living above the hellmouth, the fact that this is the first time he's got a lasting injury is something of a miracle. I just can't see why the fact that in this struggle with a demonically-powerful foe mere-mortal Xander actually got a serious wound should make anyone think anything other than "perhaps the mere mortals shouldn't be brought along on these fights?"

Again, you seem to me to be accurately assessing the emotional trajectory of the episode, but in doing so pointing to just how badly conceived it is. I agree, in fact, that it is Xander's injury that we're meant to be swayed by--but that just shows how narcissistic and, again, childish the Scoobies are being made to be. "Oh, one of OUR friends got a middling-serious injury! Oh no! That's just not tolerable!" Never mind the fact that there are several girls who have been, you know, killed.

If ever someone needed to say "well, you knew the risks going into this thing" it was in that episode. They did know the damn risks. Again: hadn't we had a long speech in almost every preceding episode for most of the season about how "this is serious. People are going to die" etc. etc.?

ETA: And it's telling that while there are lots of "some of us will die" speeches, there aren't any "and worse, some of us might even lose an eye!" speeches.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-01 01:16 ]
Rowan Hawthorn:

Neither the Potentials nor Buffy's friends asked her to leave. Yes, Kennedy suggested they take a vote to see who thought Faith should have a turn at running things - a reasonable suggestion, since none of them really know either Buffy or Faith, and don't know anything other than what they've been told and what they're seeing now. But Buffy made the ultimatum that they follow or she leaves; clearly a wrong move on her part, but still, the only one in the room to call her on it is Dawn, and it seems to me it was as much to put a damper on the fight as anything else.

Empty Places:

ROBIN WOOD
So we vote.

BUFFY
Wait. Guys—

Buffy looks around—Anya's crossed her arms and stares back with pursed lips; Willow looks away—Buffy searches their faces.

BUFFY
I can't watch you just throw away everything that— (looks at Xander and at Dawn, who's not meeting her glance; Buffy holds her head up high) I know I'm right about this. I just need a little— I can't stay here and watch her lead you into some disaster.

DAWN
(stands, walks up to Buffy, softly) Then you can't stay here. Buffy, I love you, but you were right. We have to be together on this. You can't be a part of it. (Buffy blinks her eyes in disbelief) So I need you to leave. I'm sorry, but this is my house, too.

Buffy looks around then walks out the front door.

RONA
Ding dong, the witch is dead.


I don't think your reading is supported by the text. I agree that no actual "we all hold our hands up" vote is taken, but Wood says "we vote" and Buffy looks into each of their faces in turn and the scene makes it quite clear which way they would vote if it came to it. No one speaks up for her; no one supports her.

And then Dawn does in fact ask her to leave. I just can't see this as an attempt to "put a damper on the fight." It's Dawn kicking Buffy out of the house because "it's my house too." If Dawn wanted to "put a damper on the fight" the thing to say would be "look, we're all tired and freaked out; this probably isn't the time to be making a decision as momentous as this; let's all sleep on it and in the morning we can talk over our options."

"You can't be part of it." Isn't even a "go away and calm down" to Buffy--it's a "you're no longer part of the team at all" statement.

The only thing I've ever seen that made any of this sequence make the least sense was a terrific fanfic someone wrote which takes place between the following episode and the one after, in which it's revealed that The First was possessing everyone involved in the scene. Now THAT would explain this.

Oh and just to remind everyone. Even after this bizarre and shocking betrayal, Buffy--the Buffy is supposed to somehow be so unhinged and "self-centered" that these actions are actually justified--remains pure class. She thinks about Faith and about the Potentials, not about herself:

EXT. FRONT PORCH AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Faith follows Buffy outside.

FAITH
(concerned) Hey. Look, I swear I didn't want it to go this way—

BUFFY
(sternly) Don't.

FAITH
I mean it, I—

BUFFY
Don't...be afraid to lead them. (Buffy's face is wet with tears) Whether you wanted it or not, their lives are yours. It's only gonna get harder. Protect them, (looks at Faith) but lead them.

Faith walks back inside the house. Her face tear-streaked, Buffy walks down the front walk alone.

SMFOS:
I don't think your reading is supported by the text. I agree that no actual "we all hold our hands up" vote is taken, but Wood says "we vote" and Buffy looks into each of their faces in turn and the scene makes it quite clear which way they would vote if it came to it. No one speaks up for her; no one supports her.

The suggested vote was not for Buffy to leave - as clearly pointed out in the text you posted, she doesn't even drop that ultimatum until after Wood calls for a vote. The vote - had one actually been taken - was whether to give Faith a chance at leading.

SMFOS:
And then Dawn does in fact ask her to leave. I just can't see this as an attempt to "put a damper on the fight." It's Dawn kicking Buffy out of the house because "it's my house too." If Dawn wanted to "put a damper on the fight" the thing to say would be "look, we're all tired and freaked out; this probably isn't the time to be making a decision as momentous as this; let's all sleep on it and in the morning we can talk over our options."

"You can't be part of it." Isn't even a "go away and calm down" to Buffy--it's a "you're no longer part of the team at all" statement.

No, sorry. It's nothing more nor less than accepting Buffy's words - again, right there in the block of text you posted.

BUFFY
I can't watch you just throw away everything that— (looks at Xander and at Dawn, who's not meeting her glance; Buffy holds her head up high) I know I'm right about this. I just need a little— I can't stay here and watch her lead you into some disaster.


Faith had previously asked, "I don't know if I can lead. But the real question is...can you follow?"

Buffy's just admitted that she can't; that she can't be a part of this.
By the way, if anyone's interested in the "Episode 20 1/2" I mentioned, it's here.

Here's a taste. For anyone who agrees with my take on this ghastly episode, reading this is balm in Gilead--it tries to do nothing to actually contradict the events of the preceding and succeeding eps, but to fix what so many of us thought had gone wrong in the season.

CUT TO 17.INT. KITCHEN FLOOR. XANDER AND ANYA are now fully clothed. XANDER is finishing the ice cream. ANYA is cleaning up mess from Potential swarm.

ANYA It is weird, you know ?

XANDER What, in particular ?

ANYA All those things I said to Buffy…it felt good at the time… it felt like it was a long time coming…like it was one of my uncomfortable truths that no one wants to hear, but that I say anyway…(pauses)

XANDER (Puzzled, trying to be helpful) Everybody’s good at something…

ANYA But Xander ! It wasn’t true ! What I said…about her not having earned it…she has, by now, I mean, how many times has she sacrificed herself to save others…how many times has she saved the world ?

XANDER Well yeah…there is that…

ANYA And that’s just what you said…right before you all went to the winery and you got you’re eye gauged out…

XANDER Which does tend to change a guy’s perspective…

ANYA But, not that much. I mean, how long have you been doing this, Xander ? It’s a wonder you never got seriously injured, or killed, before now, and you always knew the risks… I mean, you did lose something that’s a big deal, and maybe there would be some small, spiteful part of you that would blame Buffy for it, some mean little part, tucked away where nobody can see. But Xander, I know you, better than anyone, and that part of you is way smaller than it is in the rest of us…what we did…it was…

XANDER (Realization starts hitting) Cowardly.

ANYA It wasn’t you-not really, and I pride myself on my forthrightness…but what I said was…vindictive…

XANDER (Realization is really hitting now) Like something was bringing out the worst in us.

ANYA (Suddenly very afraid) Which led us to throw out our greatest warrior…

XANDER …possibly the only one who can save us…


One of the other nice things this "episode" does is to bring back the Joyce/The First character from CWDP--a thread left conspicuously dangling in the season as broadcast.

ETA: I should stress that I didn't write this and have no idea who did. I just remember reading it not long after the original season aired and thinking "oh, if only they'd get back together and make this--it would fix so much of what was wrong with that mess!"

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-01 02:13 ]
Rowan:It's nothing more nor less than accepting Buffy's words

It's nothing less, sure. It's a lot more, however. Just because Buffy has said "I can't stay here and watch her lead you into some disaster" (an interestingly prophetic statement--because Faith does immediately lead them into some disaster) doesn't mean that Dawn has to say "yeah, don't let the door hit you on the way out."

If your child or your lover says "you don't love me" in the heat of an argument it wouldn't be "nothing more or less than accepting their statement" to say "you got that right!" It would be a cruel racheting of the emotional stakes. For Dawn to simply accept her sister's words here is not neutral--it's simply appalling. There's nothing preventing Dawn from saying "look--if most people want Faith to lead, there's not much we can do about that, but you're still our best fighter, Buffy: I know it will be hard, but you have to stay, we need you."

I also think that Buffy shows superhuman restraint in not saying to Dawn: "you know what, Dawn--a couple of years ago everybody wanted me to kill you to save the world, but I said that even if the world was being overrun by demons, the last thing you'd see would be me standing over you fighting for your life. When it came to it, I chose to die so that you could live--because we are sisters, we share the same blood, Summers blood. I would have thought that you would stand by me when one battle goes a little less than perfectly...but I guess that blood is about all we really share." But then, Buffy shows amazing forgiveness throughout this whole episode.
SMFOS:
Just because Buffy has said "I can't stay here and watch her lead you into some disaster" (an interestingly prophetic statement--because Faith does immediately lead them into some disaster) doesn't mean that Dawn has to say "yeah, don't let the door hit you on the way out."

If your child or your lover says "you don't love me" in the heat of an argument it wouldn't be "nothing more or less than accepting their statement" to say "you got that right!" It would be a cruel racheting of the emotional stakes.

How many times do real-world parents/spouses/lovers say something similar to their children/spouses/lovers? "If you leave now, don't bother coming back!" "Well, if you don't like the rules in this house, you can just leave!" etc, etc. People say, and do, these things all the time; demanding that fictional characters should not seems like stretching a little point a long way to make the argument more one-sided than it really was.
How many times do real-world parents/spouses/lovers say something similar to their children/spouses/lovers? "If you leave now, don't bother coming back!" "Well, if you don't like the rules in this house, you can just leave!" etc, etc. People say, and do, these things all the time; demanding that fictional characters should not seems like stretching a little point a long way to make the argument more one-sided than it really was.

I can't quite tell what your point is here. Are you suggesting that Dawn doesn't really mean that Buffy should leave? That she's just saying it in the heat of the moment? That doesn't fit the way the scene is played, however (nor that "softly" stage direction--though that may not be in the original script).

Sure, parents say "if you leave now, don't even think of coming back" (Joyce, for one). And would you regard the child who replied "o.k., you'll never see me again" as doing "nothing more nor less" than accepting what the parent had said, or as deliberately ratcheting up the argument?

We don't hold fictional conversations to the same standards (or judge them in exactly the same way) as real ones, but if we're trying to understand the emotional logic of a scene, real-world emotional logic is about all we've got to work with. In the real world, what Dawn said is an appalling betrayal of family, of love, of common sense; it's not "nothing more or less" than accepting Buffy's emotionally overwrought statement.
Buffy's big mistake in "Empty Places" was that she made the argument personal, instead of tactical. Wood's snarky "point of order" on Faith's behalf didn't help. Giles sotto voce windmill remark probably went over everybody's head that isn't Wood, Willow, and possibly Amanda.

The discussion fell apart when Buffy took the desire for further discussion as distrust. That opened the door for every remark that followed about her ego, about her attitude, etc. By the time she concedes she would "discuss strategy", the conversation isn't even about that anymore, which is actually her fault.

But that doesn't absolve people like Giles, Willow, Giles, Xander, GILES, Dawn, Giles, and GILES from trying to keep cooler heads in control. Ideally, Giles, rather than choosing to vent right back at Buffy when she brought up the distrust, could have been a more conciliatory voice. How about...

"GILES: Buffy, that's not fair. You know as well as I, we've taken time to discuss strategy and consider our plans before, this should be no different. Even if what we need is at the vineyard as you surmise, we're no better equipped now than we were before. At the very least we might consider attacking by daylight."

What then? Would Buffy yield to this? Would she, Giles, Faith, Xander, Willow, Anya, and Dawn have taken the conversation to the master bedroom and hashed out in private what their next move should be? I tend to think they would. It's not Giles' fault or Buffy's alone, but I think Giles had the last clear chance to avoid what followed by refusing to go to personal attacks when Buffy started it. Willow *might* have had a chance when she stood up to stop Kennedy to try a "let's sleep on it", although with the Spike issue out in the open, it probably couldn't be stopped at that point.
KingofCretins--you sketch a very plausible way for the writers to bring that scene around (make it a scene about "they're all at the ragged end of their nerves, but eventually cooler heads prevail"--perfectly fine). But I think, alas, you do S7 Giles too much credit, and don't give enough credit to the other Scoobies. S7 Giles is one of the main things that I find off in the whole season. He never once seems to be the same man as the Giles we've known in previous seasons (of course, for the first several eps this is being done deliberately so they can play the feeble "OMG maybe he's The First" gag--such a bad idea). But after that they just can't rediscover the character.

But more importantly, even with Giles not saying what you suggest, in normal circumstances Willow, Xander and Dawn would all be up to saying something similar. It just isn't consistent with what we've seen of their characters before this that they would stand back and watch Buffy walk away without at some point saying "wait, wait, wait--what are we letting happen here?"
I can't quite tell what your point is here. Are you suggesting that Dawn doesn't really mean that Buffy should leave? That she's just saying it in the heat of the moment?

I'm suggesting it's the last-ditch effort to get through to Buffy, the same way that "If you leave now, don't come back" is usually meant. It's usually also ill-advised, but people often do ill-advised things when they don't know where else to go.

That doesn't fit the way the scene is played, however (nor that "softly" stage direction--though that may not be in the original script).

That's because this is taken from a fan transcript of the episode, not an actual script. The shooting script contains considerably more dialogue.

Sure, parents say "if you leave now, don't even think of coming back" (Joyce, for one). And would you regard the child who replied "o.k., you'll never see me again" as doing "nothing more nor less" than accepting what the parent had said, or as deliberately ratcheting up the argument?

Do you automatically regard the parent as always right? Perhaps it's the parent who "deliberately ratcheted up the argument" for it to reach this point. Once an argument gets to this point, there are only two options: either capitulate regardless of who's in the right, or leave regardless of who's in the right. Either way, the point stands that people do say and do these things

We don't hold fictional conversations to the same standards (or judge them in exactly the same way) as real ones,

Actually, judging from most internet discussions, that seems to depend a great deal on whether it's convenient to one's argument to do so.

But more importantly, even with Giles not saying what you suggest, in normal circumstances Willow, Xander and Dawn would all be up to saying something similar. It just isn't consistent with what we've seen of their characters before this that they would stand back and watch Buffy walk away without at some point saying "wait, wait, wait--what are we letting happen here?"

Did you, by any chance, miss "The Yoko Factor"? "Fear, Itself"? "Dead Man’s Party"? "Revelations?" The entire gang has a history of letting their emotions run away with them and requiring a cooling-off period.
I have to admit, every time the gang got all petty and briefly splintered I found it kind of dumb and hard to believe. The S7 scene you guys are discussing just seemed the most extreme case of it.

BUT what's interesting to me here is mainly how entirely differently different fans can react to the same thing. I'm enjoying following the discussion, as a sharing-of-perspectives thing, but I also think it's impossible to persuade somebody to respond to story differently than how they naturally respond to it, just as it's impossible to convince someone to dislike someone they like or vice versa. I was disappointed by a lot of things in S7 (and loved other things) but it makes me kind of happy to see that not everybody felt "Empty Places" was the travesty I thought it was. It was clearly not the most successful piece of plot the writers ever came up with, given how many people found it ludicrous, but it's nice to know that it did work for other people.

And... that's all I have to say about that! I'll go back to happily lurking on this thread :).
Huh, catherine, that's interesting: I never thought "Empty Places" was a travesty, and I wasn't aware until now that others did, to be honest. I share a visceral dislike for it because of the way Buffy is treated as she's the character I always felt the strongest connection to (I find that scene in "Dead Man's Party" hard to watch for the same reason). Still, I can divorce my hurt feelings from my appreciation of the episode. In fact, I think EP is pretty compelling viewing, unlike some of the mid-season eps - "Sleeper" through "The Killer in Me" is the show's nadir for me, albeit with some bright spots . . .
Yeah, this is kind of new to me too and interesting as a result, I knew not everyone thought much of S6/7 but I wasn't aware that there was even really a significant minority that thought 'Empty Places' was an actual travesty. It's painful to watch and it's bitterly unfair to Buffy in a lot of ways (looking at you Anya & Rhona) BUT exactly like "Dead Men's Party", I never really found it to be hard to believe or inconsistent, in fact it was often the times the gang got all "petty and dumb" that I found them to be the most true. It had the whiff of real arguments to it in that, once it becomes about personal attacks, no-one can see through their anger to the good sense of either perspective (and as I say, I agree with the Scoobs that an intervention was entirely necessary, even if they did it in just about the worst possible way).

And I also agree BTW that broadly speaking, this is one of those situations where both interpretations are supported by the episode (though specifics are and aren't to a greater or lesser degree - I can't believe, for instance, that I watched the same season as anyone that can claim 'Empty Places' was a completely baseless betrayal and Buffy was entirely in the right all the way through and that's actually a view i've seen proposed by some) and it comes down to how you feel about it (and, as I say upthread, how you feel about S7 in general). In the case of 'Empty Places' it maybe felt a bit rushed like they'd left themselves too much to do in the last 4-5 episodes and that might make it feel a bit unlikely but not, to me, ludicrous in any way.
Ha, maybe "travesty" is too strong a word - I get very extreme when I'm tired ;). I guess like snot monster I just didn't believe for a second that they would really decide to kick Buffy out of the house and try to fight the Big Fight without her. It felt so much like the writers went "we want Buffy to be totally isolated" and instead of working it gradually and believably as they did throughout S5, or even in a different way in S6, they came up with this bizarre episode. But maybe I'm mistaken in thinking a lot of people agree with me about that? I feel like I've seen a number of comments over the years expressing something similar, especially about Dawn telling Buffy she has to leave, but I may have been reading them with a biased eye. After all, being angry on Buffy's behalf is totally different from thinking "I don't buy this." I do get what others like Rowan Hawthorn are saying, anyway, and I may be more alone than I thought in feeling that way ;).

In fact, I think EP is pretty compelling viewing, unlike some of the mid-season eps - "Sleeper" through "The Killer in Me" is the show's nadir for me, albeit with some bright spots . . .

The lovely thing is there are always the bright spots. I haven't re-watched in a good long while, but it was always fun to rediscover lovely moments in episodes that hadn't really impressed me the first time around.
And in case these threads make me seem like a S6/7 hater... well, OK, maybe not so much a big fan of S7, though there are things about it I love too. But S6 was one of my faves. I thought it was uneven, and some stuff really didn't work (for me), but the stuff that did was fantastic, and I love that it's both arguably the darkest and the funniest season. La la.
Well, just to put things into perspective, I don't think everything in Season 7 worked the way it was intended to, and there were a few things that just didn't really work at all, but I pretty much agree with Saje's post. Yes, the argument is unfair to Buffy in a lot of ways. But, to be fair to the rest, Buffy did need to just stop and rest for a while. She was running on pure instinct, not thinking clearly at all. I don't know about any of the rest of you, but during a couple of deadline crunches, I've gone for as much as two weeks straight taking a thirty-minute nap every eight hours. If I'd been in Buffy's position at the time, I'd have removed me from command, too...

Not the strongest episodes of the series? Certainly not. Travesty? No.
Eep... guess it's too late to go back and edit out "travesty" and replace it with "weak episode"? ;-)

Well, I'm almost feeling like re-watching a little S7 to see how it strikes me after this discussion. Agreed that Buffy needed some rest - they do a good job of playing up her level of sleep deprivation over a number of eps, and then we have her in a stranger's house finally getting a good night's rest. That was quite lovely. Then she wakes up and she's all Buffy-like again.

Also:
I don't know about any of the rest of you, but during a couple of deadline crunches, I've gone for as much as two weeks straight taking a thirty-minute nap every eight hours.

Yikes! Did you try to lead your co-workers / employees into a lethal trap, perchance? I am not so good with the sleep deprivation. If Jack Bauer kept me up past midnight I would spill the location of the nukes for sure.
Given the right circumstances, I've no doubt that I probably would have. Last time I did that, it was the final straw, and resulted in me turning in my resignation along with the finished project (also resulted in me getting a fairly large raise, along with other concessions, when they asked me to stay on halfway through me clearing out my desk. So, hey, silver lining...)
Hey, I'm getting the affinity you have for S7 Buffy! :-)

Whenever I hear stories like that I think, wow, I am a really lazy person. Nothing comes between me and my solid eight hours.
Well, getting a good night's sleep is linked (other things being equal) to a long and healthy life so it should definitely be the aim.

And I for one am happy to pretend 'travesty' never happened BTW ;).

It felt so much like the writers went "we want Buffy to be totally isolated" and instead of working it gradually and believably as they did throughout S5, or even in a different way in S6, they came up with this bizarre episode. But maybe I'm mistaken in thinking a lot of people agree with me about that?

See, to me it's more like a coming to a head of something that's been building up for quite some time (certainly for the previous 6+ episodes) so in that sense it didn't seem that bizarre. Buffy already was isolated it was just hard to tell cos she was surrounded by people at the time, and the 'mutiny' was more like the Scoobs etc. realising, at last, what was wrong and responding to the situation (very hamfistedly).

As to how many agree, I dunno, stuff like that is notoriously hard to get a handle on within the fandom partly just because of good old confirmation bias and partly because a few people that feel strongly about something can make it seem as if more feel the same way than actually do (that cuts both ways obviously).
Yeah, probably somebody once said "that scene was lame" and I immediately decided that everybody felt the way I did about it. Having made a fuss earlier, though, about how we can't really persuade each other to see the story differently, I'm really wanting to go back to S7 if I can find time in the next few weeks, to see if I can see what you all are seeing. As the season I've watched the least I'm sure it will be full of fun forgotten surprises, and I know Robin Wood does go shirtless a few times at least.

And I for one am happy to pretend 'travesty' never happened BTW ;).

Whew, thanks. Um, I mean, what are you talking about?
I don't know if I've ever persuaded anybody to see the story differently who had a strong feeling about this or that aspect, but it's been damn enjoyable trying. I love discussions like these, except for the moments when the argument is taken a little too personally, something that I've been guilty of from time to time. For me, the back-and-forth, the ripostes, the unexpected insights someone brings are just exhilarating as hell.

Sometimes I'm pacing back and forth, thinking of how I'm going to counter this or that point someone's brought up and I'm surprised again at how passionate I am. It makes me grateful that there are posters who can eloquently tease out subtleties I wasn't aware of or even ones who have takes on the story I think are wrong-headed. And It makes me realize again just how rich the text is.

Oooh, by the way, I got into a random discussion of the Iliad yesterday and since these discussions here get me so revved up, I started thinking of it in terms of what we've been discussing. Yes, I'm that obsessed.

Achilles basically loses it when Patroclus is killed and the rest of the story becomes about his boundless wrath. But why? According to SMFOS's analysis of the Scoobs' reactions, especially to Xander's injury, it doesn't make character sense. He's a warrior. He's seen people die all the time. Patroclus knew the risks. They all did. The death occurs during a skirmish. It's no great catastrophe. Patroclus was a strong warrior, but there were plenty, like Ajax and Achilles, who were better. It's sad, sure, but such is war. It's a miracle someone close to him hadn't been killed or badly hurt sooner. And yet, knowing all this, Achilles still doesn't just suck it up and go on. Instead, because it's someone close to him, this seasoned warrior is devastated, enough to start acting emotionally.

Now Xander didn't die, so the emotional cost is less to those who love him. But when the theoretical risks become actual damage done, logic doesn't lessen the pain, and the pain itself can cause viewpoints and actions to change. Just ask all the soldiers who suffer from PTSD. I don't think any of the Scoobs were nearly that traumatized, but for Xander, Willow, Dawn and Anya the stress has to be considered as an additional factor in how they reacted to what Buffy proposed and not just dismissed as something they should have been prepared for. And I don't rule out that Buffy's desire to return to the same place hasn't been influenced by what happened to him either, though there's no overt text to support that.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-02-01 22:52 ]
Achilles basically loses it when Patroclus is killed and the rest of the story becomes about his boundless wrath. But why? According to SMFOS's analysis of the Scoobs' reactions, especially to Xander's injury, it doesn't make character sense. He's a warrior. He's seen people die all the time. Patroclus knew the risks. They all did. The death occurs during a skirmish. It's no great catastrophe. Patroclus was a strong warrior, but there were plenty, like Ajax and Achilles, who were better. It's sad, sure, but such is war. It's a miracle someone close to him hadn't been killed or badly hurt sooner. And yet, knowing all this, Achilles still doesn't just suck it up and go on. Instead, because it's someone close to him, this seasoned warrior is devastated, enough to start acting emotionally.

But it's a completely different kind of war (and different kinds of warriors). Achilles has spent the entire Iliad up to that time sulking in his tent over the Briseus incident. This isn't a "war to save the world" or even a "war to save the Greeks"--it's a testing ground for points of honor. Also, Achilles has good reason to feel guilty about Patroclus's death: Patroclus, after all, has donned Achilles's armor in part to try to make up for Achilles shameful absence from the fight. Achilles has pretty good reason to feel that had he not engaged in his sulk-fest, Patroclus would still be alive. None of this is remotely like the situation with Xander.

ETA: P.S. I'm not sure if my earlier argument about Xander was clear, by the way. I'm not saying it would be absurd for the gang to feel upset and sad for Xander losing an eye. I'm saying it would be absurd for them to feel angry at Buffy about it. Thus, even if Patroclus had fallen fighting at Achilles side and Achilles had done nothing to cause it, it would be entirely understandable for him to feel grief and to feel rage at the enemy that killed Patroclus. What would be absurd would be for him to suddenly decide that he wanted to vote Agamemnon out as leader because of Patroclus's death.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-02 01:56 ]
Catherine: But maybe I'm mistaken in thinking a lot of people agree with me about that?

Oh, I remember having these discussions over and over when the episodes aired. Believe me, there were an awful lot of people who felt as you and I do. I hope you have a look at the "lost episode 20 1/2" that I linked to above, either now or after you re-watch S7; you'll find it very therapeutic (and it will also confirm that others see this ep. in exactly the same way).

I think one could make a fair argument that the sheer number of fans who say "this makes no sense" shows that at the very least the writers did not make the motivations in the episode clear enough.

Saje argues that the point of the show is for Buffy to have a kind of "time out" so that she comes back with her head in the game and with a reformed approach to her leadership role. If that is what the writers intended, though, why doesn't her leadership change? What's the first active thing she does after she's kicked out? She goes back to the vineyard as she originally proposed. What's the next big attack she leads? The attack in Chosen--where, just as in the original attack on the vineyard, she has no idea what kind of force she'll face, no idea if they won't be expecting her (imagine if The First had arranged to give the T'Hs a couple of hand grenades--that's the end of the fight right there), and no clear strategic goal other than a hunch that this is the right thing to do and a feeling of impatience with "waiting for them to make the first move."

If you've put us through something as gruelling as watching our hero's dearest friends stab her in the back to make the point that "she has to totally reconceive her approach to the battle" it would be nice if you then showed that she had, you know, reconceived her approach to the battle.
SMFOS:
Oh, I remember having these discussions over and over when the episodes aired. Believe me, there were an awful lot of people who felt as you and I do. I hope you have a look at the "lost episode 20 1/2" that I linked to above, either now or after you re-watch S7; you'll find it very therapeutic (and it will also confirm that others see this ep. in exactly the same way).

None of which really means anything beyond the fact that you can find support for pretty much any POV on-line. As far as fanfic designed to "fix" the problems is concerned... well, you can find lots of fanfic all over the 'net designed to "fix" things that those writers felt were "wrong" with the show all the way back to the first season. About the only thing that proves is that there are a lot of fanfic writers with a considerably overblown estimate of their own opinions, not to mention their own writing skills (yeah, I've read some of those fics. I know the authors - and some of their target audience - feel that they can do better than the show's writers, but personally I'd recommend they don't give up their day jobs...)
I'm saying it would be upset for them to be angry at Buffy about it.

I think it would be absurd, which I believe is what you meant, for the Scoobs to blame Buffy, too, actually. But that's not what's going on. The Scoobs don't feel angry at Buffy about Xander losing an eye. Rona might, but not the core group. Nobody mentions it except Xander, obliquely. Nor is it something you can infer from anything said earlier in the episode. It is not the issue at all. It's whether, after the losses and trauma of the original attack, which Buffy is forcing them to emotionally contemplate again, going back is wise.

And of course the circumstances of the Iliad are different. They always are. The point is that what isn't different is that the death or horrible injury of someone close to you is not something that even seasoned veterans are emotionally prepared for. To paint the Scoobs as backstabbers for not totally supporting Buffy because, after all, this is a war to save the world, and they're being irrational to not shrug off all the trauma is not something I'll ever buy. People don't work that way.

By the way, Buffy does not go back to the vineyard as she originally proposed. That proposal was for another attack in force.

As for Chosen, I think there I partially agree with you. I always felt the Scoobs should have objected more to the plan, just as they justifiably did in EP, since even Buffy had had difficulty with the Turok Hans. Better writing there was needed, such as the empowering spell drawing on the Hellmouth and weakening them so that the odds were better.

[ edited by shambleau on 2009-02-02 02:44 ]
Sigh.

Rowan, Catherine posed the question of whether this was a widely held view. I answered that, from my own personal experience, it is widely held. I didn't say that this proved that the view was correct, merely that it suggested that the writers did not frame the material in such a way as to clearly rule it out. Clearly your view is widely held too (although I find it odd that you leap in on this point as you like to present yourself as the bruised and bloodied veteran of countless arguments where no one agreed with you--but whatever floats your boat).

I also recommended that fanfic to Catherine because as someone who happens to share my view I think she will enjoy it. I'm not sure why that should upset you so much that you feel the need to denigrate the author of that piece (without, apparently, having read it). In any event, I wasn't recommending the piece to you, and I'm quite sure you wouldn't enjoy it.

Lastly, it is not true that "any POV" gets wide representation among the fandom. You will struggle to find a huge cohort of fans who think that Principal Snyder is the real hero of the series, for example, or who think that the series went to hell in a handbasket as soon as Oz showed up. You won't find a large contingent of fans who think that Buffy was wrong to kill the Master at the end of S1 or that when Buffy proved she was really "evil" was when she blew up the Mayor/Snake. If you did, it would be an interesting finding; it wouldn't "prove" that the writers meant to show Buffy as evil at the end of S3, but it would suggest that if they didn't mean to do that then they wrote it far more ambiguously than they intended.

When you find serious issues over which the fans get deeply divided--divided not just because some like or dislike the development, but because they understand the development in radically different ways, then that's an interesting and suggestive datum. Just throwing your hands up and saying "well, there's lots of idiots in the world who'll believe any old nonsense" isn't, perhaps, the most productive approach to take to that datum.
shambleau: By the way, Buffy does not go back to the vineyard as she originally proposed. That proposal was for another attack in force.

And had she had support, she'd have been even more likely to succeed (Buffy's "rope a dope" tactic would be seriously compromised if there were a ton of bringers around--the potentials could have engaged the bringers while Buffy did the rope-a-dope with Caleb; Buffy going in solo isn't a "suddenly Buffy realizes the error of her ways" moment [or, if it is meant to be, then the writers screwed it up], it's a "well, even if all the others have backed out, I'm still going to carry out my plan" moment). That she has no followers left to go in with her doesn't mean that she isn't still doing what she originally proposed.

I think it would be absurd, which I believe is what you meant, for the Scoobs to blame Buffy, too, actually. But that's not what's going on. The Scoobs don't feel angry at Buffy about Xander losing an eye. Rona might, but not the core group. Nobody mentions it except Xander, obliquely. Nor is it something you can infer from anything said earlier in the episode. It is not the issue at all. It's whether, after the losses and trauma of the original attack, which Buffy is forcing them to emotionally contemplate again, going back is wise.

What does the fact that Xander lost an eye have to do with whether or not her plan is wise? I'm just not following your point here, sorry. I also don't see what this has to do with the Iliad comparison.

And of course the circumstances of the Iliad are different. They always are. The point is that what isn't different is that the death or horrible injury of someone close to you is not something that even seasoned veterans are emotionally prepared for.

Sure--at that level the comparison works. It just doesn't work at the other levels--the different circumstances actually make the comparison invalid (a battle fought for the sake of honor is actually a different kind of battle than a battle for survival). And the fact that the Scoobs aren't "emotionally prepared" for Xander's injury doesn't make it any more plausible, in my view, that they would say "heh, Xander got injured, let's kick out Buffy!" I can see that they'd be upset, I don't see this as giving them reason to turn against their leader. Again--to the extent that your comparison is valid, it supports my view: Achilles is upset, but he doesn't turn against Agamemnon (man, every time I write that I think I'm misspelling it), he goes after Hector.
Rowan, Catherine posed the question of whether this was a widely held view. I answered that, from my own personal experience, it is widely held. I didn't say that this proved that the view was correct,

Of course it's widely held - it only takes a glance over nearly any BtVS forum to figure that out.

merely that it suggested that the writers did not frame the material in such a way as to clearly rule it out. Clearly your view is widely held too (although I find it odd that you leap in on this point as you like to present yourself as the bruised and bloodied veteran of countless arguments where no one agreed with you--but whatever floats your boat).

LOL! No matter what the issue under discussion is, at some point one side or the other is going to find themselves on the short end - I had these discussions on usenet for a long time before I ever logged on to a 'net forum, and been on both the majority and the minority sides at some point (I'm a Kennedy fan, too. I'm sure you can figure where those "discussions" usually end up.) If you want to continue this line, let's take it to e-mail and off the boards.

I also recommended that fanfic to Catherine because as someone who happens to share my view I think she will enjoy it. I'm not sure why that should upset you so much that you feel the need to denigrate the author of that piece (without, apparently, having read it). In any event, I wasn't recommending the piece to you, and I'm quite sure you wouldn't enjoy it.

I don't really care one way or the other about any of that, nor am I "upset" that you posted it - but it was posted as a fanfiction which is "therapeutic" and tries "to fix what so many of us thought had gone wrong in the season", so if you don't want people to comment on it in that light, you should have thought of that beforehand. I posted my opinion of most of the fanfiction I've read, and if there's a problem with that opinion, I don't really care about that, either. It's my opinion, and wasn't aimed at that author in particular, but at the whole genre of "fix-it" fics (most other fanfiction, as well, I'll add; I've read very little that was actually worth taking the time.) Oh, and I did read... well, as much as I could wade through. Didn't really cause a miraculous change in my opinion of fanfic, I'm sorry to say. Sidebar: I think it's pretty funny that it's okay for fans to accuse the show's writers of everything including smoking crack, but there's a problem with suggesting that maybe some of these amateur writers aren't writing as well as they think, either...

Lastly, it is not true that "any POV" gets wide representation among the fandom.

And I didn't say that it does. I said "you can find support for pretty much any POV on-line." If you don't believe that, then you apparently haven't been doing this long enough.

If you did, it would be an interesting finding; it wouldn't "prove" that the writers meant to show Buffy as evil at the end of S3, but it would suggest that if they didn't mean to do that then they wrote it far more ambiguously than they intended.

And that suggestion would be incorrect. Pity there's no place I know of to get complete archives for alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer; it would be a real eye-opening experience as to just how wacked-out interpretations can get.

When you find serious issues over which the fans get deeply divided--divided not just because some like or dislike the development, but because they understand the development in radically different ways, then that's an interesting and suggestive datum. Just throwing your hands up and saying "well, there's lots of idiots in the world who'll believe any old nonsense" isn't, perhaps, the most productive approach to take to that datum.

Neither is the "Lots of people agree with me" approach. Those lots of people aren't taking part in this discussion, and even if they were, all it would show is that we all see things differently - well, we already know that.
... she comes back with her head in the game and with a reformed approach to her leadership role. If that is what the writers intended, though, why doesn't her leadership change? What's the first active thing she does after she's kicked out? She goes back to the vineyard as she originally proposed. What's the next big attack she leads? The attack in Chosen--where, just as in the original attack on the vineyard, she has no idea what kind of force she'll face, no idea if they won't be expecting her...
(my emphasis)

This, snot monster, is possibly the first thing you've said in the thread which I really don't think is supported by the text. Her leadership clearly changes after 'Empty Places', it's stuff like that which surprises (and interests) me the most about these sorts of discussions just because it's so readily apparent to me that it's hard to understand how others don't see it.

As i've mentioned, when she goes alone for the scythe she's less about the fight and more about the objective, she's lighter in both her manner and physicality than we've seen her for a while - fast, loose, adaptable, every inch the unconventional guerilla fighter she's been in the seasons up to then. So a tactical change.

(whether it would've worked with more Bringers there is academic, there weren't - and anyway, if there were, this Buffy may well just have retreated to formulate a new strategy)

And afterwards, before the big 'Chosen' fight, she solicits advice, she proposes a plan, she quite explicitly gives the Potentials/Scoobs a choice, she doesn't make it an ultimatum, doesn't make it "Do what I say just cos". She also actually explains the plan (we'll leave aside whether it's a good plan ;), rather than effectively just saying "I know it doesn't seem like it and I know recent evidence suggests otherwise and people have died/been maimed because of my rash decisions but just trust me, i'm Buffy and if we blaze in again in another full frontal 'bludgeon style' brute-force attack, this time it'll work". So a (very pronounced IMO) leadership change.
And that suggestion would be incorrect. Pity there's no place I know of to get complete archives for alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer; it would be a real eye-opening experience as to just how wacked-out interpretations can get.

Rowan, please try to argue with the points I actually make and not with points that I quite carefully and explicitly did not make. I spoke of interpretations which are supported by "a huge cohort of fans." Yes, almost any position, no matter how absurd, will have the odd nutjob who supports it. But it is an interesting fact that there are textual cruxes that large numbers of readers diverge on. When those divergences occur it tells us something about the text: either that it is deliberately ambiguous or that it is insufficiently clear.

Neither is the "Lots of people agree with me" approach. Those lots of people aren't taking part in this discussion, and even if they were, all it would show is that we all see things differently - well, we already know that.

Rowan--I'm going to assume that you genuinely don't see the point I'm making and try one last time to explain it to you. I'm not saying "lots of people agree with me, therefore I'm likely to be right." After all, I've also said that lots of people agree with you. So we're even on that score.

What I'm saying is that if you write a story and half your audience says "I didn't understand the characters' motivations, nor did I find the action they took plausible in the given circumstances" then that is evidence about how clearly you conveyed the characters' motivations in the story that you wrote. If, on the other hand, 99% of the audience says "oh, sure, I understood everyone's motivations and I found their actions plausible" then the incomprehension of the remaining 1% is more likely evidence about something peculiar to them than it is evidence about how clearly you've written your story.

Now, that doesn't mean that a story in which the audience is in fact divided in such a manner is definitely "badly" written. The ambiguity might be intentional (as is the case, say, in Restless--where interpretations diverge wildly, and are clearly meant to). It might be that the writers wanted a kind of deep ambiguity in this scene which would force viewers to make up their own minds about how they would have acted in such a situation, without the writers taking them by the hand too much and saying "this is the right decision."

The problem with such a reading, to me, is that it doesn't fit either the "pro" or "anti" readings of the scene. The "pro" people all think that the message is cut-and-dried. Buffy has made a disastrous hash of being leader and needs to be taught a valuable lesson. The anti people just think that it's patently absurd to give us characters we have generally found admirable for almost seven years and show them abandoning their leader after one skirmish goes a little badly. This seems to me to be a situation in which clarity of motivation could only improve the writing--and it is objectively a situation in which the motivations are not, in fact, made clear.
Saje: As i've mentioned, when she goes alone for the scythe she's less about the fight and more about the objective, she's lighter in both her manner and physicality than we've seen her for a while - fast, loose, adaptable, every inch the unconventional guerilla fighter she's been in the seasons up to then. So a tactical change.

If we're meant to think "gosh, it really was a good idea to fire Buffy as leader because it made her rethink her tactics" then it seems to me that the tactical rethink needs to follow logically from the firing. I agree that we see a different tactic from Buffy; I don't see that it is in any way a logical consequence of discovering that the loyalty of her friends was microns-deep. There's nothing in the text to suggest that the rope-a-dope tactic she tries against Caleb only occurred to her after the sacking. Maybe she intended to give that a go all along. Maybe she didn't, but if her friends had showed unswerving loyalty in the face of ONE less-than-successful battle that emotional support would have lead her to think in a new way about her fight tactics. Who knows? The point is, I don't see any logical connection between a Buffy who--by rights--should be feeling abandoned and betrayed and a new tactical flexibility.

(whether it would've worked with more Bringers there is academic, there weren't - and anyway, if there were, this Buffy may well just have retreated to formulate a new strategy)

No, it's not academic. If the argument is about the quality of Buffy's plan, then as a plan it would definitely be better for Buffy to have the Potentials along. The fact that Caleb doesn't have a horde of Bringers helping him out during his fight with Buffy is just good luck.

And afterwards, before the big 'Chosen' fight, she solicits advice, she proposes a plan, she quite explicitly gives the Potentials/Scoobs a choice, she doesn't make it an ultimatum, doesn't make it "Do what I say just cos". She also actually explains the plan (we'll leave aside whether it's a good plan ;)

Actually, she explains the plan in Empty Places (she says that despite the fact that Caleb keeps talking about the school and the seal, he stays camped out at the vineyard--so clearly he is protecting something there; therefore that's where they need to go. It's a reasonable argument and has the fortunate bonus of being correct.). We don't really know how fully she explains the plan in Chosen because we come in on the scene when she's finished laying the plan out (so we don't know what justification she has given for trying to wage this attack at all).

She does, it's true, solicit opinions--but then she does that in Empty Places too (she is having a strategy meeting, after all, when they all turn on her--she doesn't just say "hello gang, here are tomorrow's orders"). Giles is the only person who actually says anything positive about the plan ("it's bloody brilliant"). No one else actually says that they think it will work--they all express extreme doubts, in fact--just as they did in Dirty Girls:

XANDER
That depends. Are you in any way...kidding?

FAITH
(standing on the opposite side of the mirror from Buffy) It's pretty radical, B.

WILLOW
This goes beyond anything I've ever done. It's a total loss of control, and not in a nice, wholesome, my girlfriend has a pierced tongue kind of way.

WILLOW
I—I'm not sure that I'm stable enough.

ANYA
(to Xander) Come on, let's go assemble the cannon fodder.

ROBIN
It's one hell of a risky idea.

[NB: these are nonconsecutive statements in the script]


(so I guess if the plan in Chosen had failed, they would all have voted Buffy out as leader again on the "we told you so" clause).

You say that the "big difference" here is that Buffy solicits input. It seems to me equally valid to say that the "big difference" here is that the team agrees to follow her hunch despite their misgivings. There's just as much evidence, it seems to me, for the argument that "the Scoobies learned from their horrible mistake" as there is for the argument that "Buffy learned from her horrible mistake." (And if I were really pushing that argument I'd point to the fact that in Touched as soon as Faith becomes the new leader, she finds that she has to act exactly as Buffy was acting--which seems strongly to suggest that Buffy's "bad behavior" was simply the inevitable corollary of being the one in charge:

KENNEDY
I thought things would be different now, but you keep shutting me down.

FAITH
Things are different, because now... (stands) I'm your boss. Look, you guys, I'm not Buffy. I'm not the one who's been on your asses all this time, but I'm not one of you anymore, either. I'm your leader, which means I go first, and I make the rules, and the rest of you follow after me. Is that clear? So, Kennedy, (points) back the hell off, and let me do my job, all right? (calmly) OK, let's get down to business.
)

Again--I'm not saying that the trajectory you sketch is not what the writers had in mind. It may well be. I'm simply saying that they just didn't do enough to make that reading seem inevitable or natural. You don't mutiny against a dear friend and tried-and-trusted leader because one skirmish went a little badly. If they wanted to suggest that Buffy had lost the plot as a leader they should have had the guts to show her making a truly indefensible decision. (Compare this to, say, BSG where [spoiler if you haven't watched S4 yet].)

You can't effectively sell a story of a leader "losing her way" and then "rediscovering it" if the sum total of the difference you can point to between "lost" leader and "back on track" leader is that she says "I really do" when Giles says "If you want my opinion."

Nor do you effectively tell such a story if the precipitating "crisis" that leads to the mutiny is over a battle plan where she is leading a potentially overmatched force against uncertain odds for an unclear objective and then you immediately follow that with the "reformed" leader bringing not just the season but the whole series to a close that we are meant to read as heroic, uplifting and emotionally satisfying, and it involves her leading a potentially overmatched force against uncertain odds for an unclear objective.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-02 19:20 ]
Yeah, as I said way upthread, I pretty much think we've made up our minds on the issue (partly based on how we feel about the season) and won't be moved.

Cos if this

(she says that despite the fact that Caleb keeps talking about the school and the seal, he stays camped out at the vineyard--so clearly he is protecting something there; therefore that's where they need to go.

sounds like a plan to you snot monster I don't think we're gonna agree ;).

(really ? "He has something and we should go and get it" is a plan ? Cos personally i'd add the implicit ["even though the last time we tried that he handed us our collective arses"] to the end)

No, it's not academic. If the argument is about the quality of Buffy's plan, then as a plan ...

But the argument (from me) isn't about the quality of Buffy's plan (I actually explicitly say this), it's about the differences between the "plan" in 'Empty Places' (same as before by the sounds of things) and her approach as we see it afterwards (not the same as before). Your thesis is that she doesn't change after 'Empty Places', mine is that she does (and fairly clearly).

... it would definitely be better for Buffy to have the Potentials along.

Presumably because of how well that approach worked the last time ??

You can't effectively sell a story of a leader "losing her way" and then "rediscovering it" if the sum total of the difference you can point to between "lost" leader and "back on track" leader is that she says "I really do" when Giles says "If you want my opinion."

Well, as mentioned, that's not the sum total of the differences as I see it but I don't see too much point in repeating the same arguments a third time. You don't see the differences and that's cool (maybe the writing's even partly to blame for that) but I really do so I guess we'll have to agree to differ (it's not a right/wrong thing so there doesn't seem much point in getting het up over it ;).
The whole "Empty Places" bad writing/out of character VS good writing/in character seems to be pretty played out. Both sides made their points, and since both sides have a hefty following there isn't going to be a "right" side that wins, but I do think that SMFOS has a point in that if the writer's intention was to portray Buffy as the incorrect party in "Empty Places" while everyone else was justified then that was a failure since such a large portion of the audience--even at the time, as I remember the heated debates back then as well--found the whole thing nonsensical and out of place.

Anyway, I think that looking to how the potentials act once Faith is the leader as well as immediately after is also pretty telling that it wasn't Buffy's style of leadership that was the (only) issue:

-They suffer a couple deaths and some injuries under Buffy's leadership into a "trap" at the vineyard.

-There's a mutiny when Buffy proposes they go back to the vineyard because they feel that Buffy's not thinking straight and the plan is faulty (short version, yes, but there's a mutiny nonetheless).

-Faith becomes the leader (Kennedy actually calls her "Captain" at one point, having never shown Buffy that level of respect). They kidnap a Bringer, make it spill info, then head into--what turns out to be--another trap which results in more death and more injuries than the Buffy-led attack on the vineyard.

-Buffy saves the day, as per usual, and what to the potentials do? They turn on Faith saying they were "punished" and that it was a mistake to follow Faith in the first place.

It's plainly clear that nothing was going to satisfy the potentials except maybe some fights where pre-battle the bad guys agreed to not actually hurt or kill anyone.
Yep, they were pretty bratty a lot of them, agreed. They were also right not to blindly follow Buffy after she showed what can happen when you blindly follow someone (not even necessarily for the right reasons in some cases - as they showed in their response to Faith - but still right). Those two properties aren't mutually exclusive.

Both sides made their points, and since both sides have a hefty following there isn't going to be a "right" side that wins, but I do think that SMFOS has a point in that if the writer's intention was to portray Buffy as the incorrect party in "Empty Places" while everyone else was justified then that was a failure since such a large portion of the audience--even at the time, as I remember the heated debates back then as well--found the whole thing nonsensical and out of place.

I question "large portion" (because neither "side" can show numbers, just impressions which are slippery in these situations - it's always pretty dodgy drawing objective conclusions from subjective/anecdotal evidence) and to be honest, I question "failure" on that basis too (in that to make that sort of statement you need to show not just that there were heated debates but that most people didn't get it since if it's a minority opinion - no-matter how strongly held - then you have to consider pointing the finger elsewhere). Basically, I don't think we know enough to say one way or the other (except for ourselves which, as you say Dhoffryn, we kinda already have ;).

(and just to be clear, i've said all along I don't think they were justified in how they did it but I do think they were understandable in why)
Saje:
Cos if this

(she says that despite the fact that Caleb keeps talking about the school and the seal, he stays camped out at the vineyard--so clearly he is protecting something there; therefore that's where they need to go.

sounds like a plan to you snot monster I don't think we're gonna agree ;).


Well, it's the most important part of the plan. It's the "why we need to do this" part (and, as I say, it's given to us far more fully than in Chosen). And she explicitly invites input on the rest of the plan (the "how" part):

BUFFY
Look, I'm willing to talk strategy, OK, I'll hear suggestions on how to break this down, but this is the plan. We have to be together on this or we will fail again.


So if you think that this stuff (the "how" stuff) is the really important part of the plan, then there's no evidence that Buffy becomes "more inclusive" on the "important" parts of the planning process after Empty Places.

... it would definitely be better for Buffy to have the Potentials along.

Presumably because of how well that approach worked the last time ??


Again, you're simply assuming that it's not possible for Buffy to change the way she fights Caleb (i.e. adopt the rope-a-dope strategy) under her "Empty Places" plan. If you want to say "she could only have come up with the rope-a-dope idea after being kicked out of the gang" then you're going to have a hard time finding textual support for that claim. All I'm saying is that Buffy was right (demonstrably) that going back to the vineyard was necessary (she needed the Scythe to win the battle). And that even with her rope-a-dope tactic, she had no reason to believe that Caleb would not be accompanied by lots of Bringers--Bringers who the Potentials could have at least kept occupied while she worked her "can't-touch-this" mojo on Caleb. You can certainly fanwank the idea that "without being kicked out, she wouldn't have shaken her tactical thinking up!"--but that still wouldn't actually justify the kicking out, because there's no good reason for the Scoobies to think that their actions would have that effect (quite the opposite--a demoralized and self-doubting Buffy seems, to me, less likely to think laterally than a warmly supported even-in-our-darkest-hour Buffy).

Well, as mentioned, that's not the sum total of the differences as I see it

That's cool--I'd be interested if you'd cut and paste the crucial bits of the text you think I'm overlooking, though. I didn't re-read the whole script and it's a while since I last re-watched Chosen so there might be a scene (or several) that I'm just forgetting. But I think the pieces I have quoted at the very least suggest that the distinction between "pre-EP" and "post-EP" Buffy's leadership aren't cut-and-dried.
I question "large portion" (because neither "side" can show numbers, just impressions which are slippery in these situations - it's always pretty dodgy drawing objective conclusions from subjective/anecdotal evidence) and to be honest, I question "failure" on that basis too (in that to make that sort of statement you need to show not just that there were heated debates but that most people didn't get it since if it's a minority opinion - no-matter how strongly held - then you have to consider pointing the finger elsewhere). Basically, I don't think we know enough to say one way or the other (except for ourselves which, as you say Dhoffryn, we kinda already have ;).

I think the fact that many of us (even Rowan who would disagree with me about whether or not the grass is green if s/he could) can attest to this being an argument that keeps coming up shows that it is one that divides the fandom. I certainly remember long heated debates about it (with strong voices on both sides) back when the ep screened. That simply isn't the case with the majority of episodes in the Buffy canon. I don't think it's subjectivism to regard that as an interesting datum.

I can name other such cases where "what just happened here?" divided the fandom in ways that, to me, are interesting. For example, the final shot of "Normal Again"--did the return to Buffy-in-the-mental-hospital mean that this was meant to be read as "reality" and that we were meant to take the Buffyverse as nothing but a deranged young woman's fantasy life? I remember that a LOT of people read the ep that way, and were really angry about it.

Now, I don't read it that way, and I would argue that strictly within the mechanics of the plot you can demonstrate that it need not be read that way (i.e., Buffy hasn't yet been given the second dose of the antidote when the scene occurs). However, I have to acknowledge that the fact that so many people read it that way shows that the writers did, in fact, leave that possibility open. In other words, if it had been their goal to leave us with no doubts about which "world" was "real" then this would have been a measure of objective proof that they had failed in their goal. Of course, I don't think that that was their goal, because I think they enjoyed the idea of sending a frisson of doubt through the viewers (hey--maybe this is better explained as delusions!)--but the point is that the real division in the viewership is worthwhile evidence as to what the writers did or did not in fact achieve.

By the same token, I never saw any large faction in the fandom who thought that, say, Buffy's plan to kill the Mayor at the end of S3 was a crazy and reckless one that needlessly endangered the lives of her fellow students ("won't someone think of poor Harmony!!!"). The fact that there just isn't a significant "constituency" for that point of view (and yes, Rowan, I'm sure that there is some nut job out there who believes it; I'm saying that it's not an argument that would generate over a hundred posts on a Whedonesque.com thread!) shows that the writers adequately set the plan up as convincingly necessary, heroic, well-thought-out etc. etc.

None of this applies, of course, to most of the matters that divide the fandom (e.g., should Tara have been killed?)--because those are simply matters of taste: do you like this story or not. You can't say that writers have failed if they tell an unpopular story. But you can, I think, say that readers have failed to make, say, a character's motivation clear if a sufficiently large percentage of the readership/viewership can't understand or believe in that character's motivations. Now, whether or not it's a fruitful or interesting lack of clarity is another question. Nobody seems to think this one is, though--they just seem to be frustrated that the other side doesn't see it their way.
(monster post, sorry to anyone that feels the need to read it ;)

But I think the pieces I have quoted at the very least suggest that the distinction between "pre-EP" and "post-EP" Buffy's leadership aren't cut-and-dried.

Clearly they're not cut and dried or we wouldn't still be talking about it snot monster ;). They're cut and dried for me though (hence my surprise and - back then anyway ;) - interest). That's the difference between us in this situation - i'm talking about my impressions (something i'm uniquely qualified to talk about ;) and you're talking about general impressions and extrapolating that to an objective fact (when I submit, you're still "only" talking about your own specific impressions).

I think the fact that many of us (even Rowan who would disagree with me about whether or not the grass is green if s/he could) can attest to this being an argument that keeps coming up shows that it is one that divides the fandom.

I don't doubt it, what I wonder about is how we can know it divides it into equal pieces (or one with your "side" in the majority) i.e. i'm not convinced it is "sufficiently large" when all we have to go on is the impressions of individuals with a vested interest (i.e. all of us that have an opinion on it) and when even minority opinions online can be very vocally expounded (which makes them seem more widely held). Note, just because i'm disagreeing with you doesn't mean i'm saying you're wrong, i'm saying I don't believe we can know you're right ;).

And I genuinely don't see mind's changing (because we both watched the same episodes, it's just that different elements "landed" more heavily for each of us) but here you go:

BUFFY
I hate this. I hate being here. I hate that you have to be
here. I hate that there’s evil and that I was chosen to fight
it. I wish a whole lot of the time that I hadn’t been. I know
a lot of you wish I hadn’t been, either. But this isn’t about
wishes. This is about choices. I believe we can beat this evil.
Not when it comes. Not when its army is ready. Now.
Tomorrow morning I’m opening the Seal. I’m going down
into the Hellmouth and I’m finishing this once and for all.
Right now you’re asking yourselves what makes this
different. “What makes us anything more than a bunch of
girls being picked off one by one?” It’s true, none of you
have the power that Faith and I do. So here’s the part
where you make a choice.
CUT TO:
...

tremendous power flows from it into Willow’s hands.

CUT TO:
20 INT. SUMMERS HOME— LIVING ROOM (FLASHBACK)— DAY 20
Earlier the day before, picking up Buffy in mid-speech to the gathered
potentials.
BUFFY
So here’s the part where you make a choice. What if you
could have that power… now? In every generation one
Slayer is born because a bunch of men who died thousands
of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men.
She points at Willow, who smiles nervously.
BUFFY
This woman is more powerful than all of them combined.
So I say we change the rule. I say my power should be our
power.
...
BUFFY
(v.o.)
Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of the scythe to
change our destiny.


That is a complete plan, maybe not a good one but still, it has clear steps, it involves using other team members' strengths and it's offered as an option (despite Buffy being committed herself, she's not trying to force anyone else to follow her - in other words she's leading, she's not pushing). Maybe most importantly, it emphatically doesn't involve putting unempowered Potentials in front of someone/thing(s) they know can kill them without breaking a sweat - in other words it doesn't ask them to do anything Faith/Buffy aren't doing, it de-fodders the cannon fodder ;).

Compare:

34 INT. LIVING ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT
...
BUFFY
Look, I know what you're thinking, but I had a visit at the school today from Caleb.
DAWN
Buffy, why didn't you -
BUFFY
I'm fine. I mean, it wasn't fun, but I'm fine. I'm better than fine. I - I figured something out. He kept making all this noise about the school.
ROBIN WOOD
Is it that seal again?
WILLOW
Do we need to try shutting it again?
BUFFY
No, that's just it. We've spent all this time worrying about the seal and the hellmouth. Why isn't Caleb guarding them? Why doesn't he have someone there protecting it? Why is he camped out at the vineyard? The bad guys always go where the power is. So if the seal was so important to Caleb and the First, they would be there right now. They're protecting the vineyard or something at the vineyard. I say it's their power, and I say it's time we go in and take it away from them.
Xander shakes his head and looks down. Giles uncrosses his arms and sighs.
FAITH
(standing beside Robin Wood with her arms crossed) Or, in the alternative, how 'bout...we don't? I mean, it's a neat theory, B, but I'm not going back in that place, not without proof, and neither should you and neither should they.
BUFFY
I'm not saying it's gonna be easy.
ROBIN WOOD
I think Faith had the floor.
FAITH
Maybe it ends OK the way you wanna play it, but maybe it doesn't. And right now, I don't think I want you playin' the odds.

(i.e. ["with our lives"])

BUFFY
Did you come here to fight?
FAITH
Listen, we're fighters, all of us, but you gotta give me something to fight, something real, not -
GILES
(softly) Windmills. (looks at Buffy)
BUFFY
There is something there.
GILES
Maybe. But we can't be sure of that. This is a hell of a lot to ask.
ROBIN WOOD
Too much.
BUFFY
(grinning nervously, looks around) I - I don't understand this. For 7 years, I've kept us safe by doing this - exactly this, making the hard decisions. And now, what - suddenly you're all acting like you can't trust me?
GILES
Didn't you say to me today you can't trust us? Maybe there's something there that should be addressed.
...
(my various emphases)

It doesn't matter how much strategy she's willing to talk after the tide turns against her, she's still asking them to risk their (unempowered) lives on her hunch, blindly. OK, the hunch turns out to be right but, frankly, so what (so's a stopped clock twice a day) ? They're still not being unreasonable in wanting a bit more to risk their lives on than Buffy's gut feeling, especially given what's just happened ETA: and especially given they have reason to doubt her gut cos of Spike [/ETA ;)] (despite what she says, that's not how it usually works - usually there's the research and the discussion and the planning and the acquiring weapons etc. i.e. there's reason for everyone to think the objective is achievable), even if they are unreasonable in how they do it.

(and Faith leads the gang into a deliberate trap based on planted information, that's unfortunate but it's an enemy win rather than an unforced error. That's how it's meant to work - you gather information and you act on it. The bomb was like a bad beat at cards, you can get your chips in right every time, you're still gonna lose hands you should win most of the time)

ETA: Again, you're simply assuming that it's not possible for Buffy to change the way she fights Caleb (i.e. adopt the rope-a-dope strategy) under her "Empty Places" plan.

No, i'm not, i'm saying we see her adopt it after 'Empty Places' and we see her not adopt it the first time in the vineyard (whether she might have afterwards or not is something neither of us can know, it's pure speculation - the fact is she does when she's forced to, either by her own psychological need or because the Potentials wouldn't have followed her anyway). And just to address the "take the Potentials" point, say Buffy does her thing and makes it downstairs to get the scythe, what are they doing upstairs ? Getting killed ?

[ edited by Saje on 2009-02-02 22:19 ]
That is a complete plan

Well, no--be fair. It's "step one" (and one that Willow very clearly says may not work. Even if Willow does make them all insta-slayers, the "what's next" is utterly unclear. And, as it happens, it's the wild card of Spike's amulet that actually carries the day.

I just don't see--if I'm one of the Potentials--why I should think "she's leading me to a certain death" in "Empty Places" and "This time we'll win for sure" in "Chosen." The unknowns are enormous in both cases, but at least in the "EP" plan there's a clear goal: "find the thing that I think Caleb is protecting." What's the goal in Chosen? "Mess them up real bad"? "Win one for the Gipper"?

I do think you make a good point about the "here's where you get to make a choice" bit. Buffy has certainly learnt better salesmanship (that's all it is, though--the Potentials always had the choice of running away. Buffy's "army" isn't one that shoots deserters). Of course, they don't actually have a choice about getting the slayer power, because every Potential in the world's going to get that regardless. Still, it is the most marked "change of tone" part of Chosen.

(and Faith leads the gang into a deliberate trap based on planted information, that's unfortunate but it's an enemy win rather than an unforced error. That's how it's meant to work - you gather information and you act on it. The bomb was like a bad beat at cards, you can get your chips in right every time, you're still gonna lose hands you should win most of the time)

Wait, what? Why is acting on something a Bringer tells them prudent action that we should just chalk up to bad luck when it all goes kablooie, while Buffy's desire to act on something that Caleb tells them is a wildly rash act that merits getting her kicked out of the gang? Just because nobody actually says to Faith and Giles "you know, what the Bringer told us could well be a lie designed to lead us into a trap" doesn't mean that there's any less reason to think that it's a trap. I think you're grasping at straws a bit there.

No, i'm not, i'm saying we see her adopt it after 'Empty Places' and we see her not adopt it the first time in the vineyard (whether she might have afterwards or not is something neither of us can know, it's pure speculation - the fact is she does when she's forced to, either by her own psychological need or because the Potentials wouldn't have followed her anyway). And just to address the "take the Potentials" point, say Buffy does her thing and makes it downstairs to get the scythe, what are they doing upstairs ? Getting killed ?

Of course it's pure speculation--that's my point. Given that there's no textual reason to think that the new strategy resulted from her sacking (rather than just following her sacking) it's unfair to suggest that it is evidence of the "benefits" ensuing from her sacking. Fair enough?

And might some of the Potentials die in that plan? Of course. Are we really meant to be thinking that in a battle to save the entire world from an eternal reign of pure evil, all plans that involve the risk of death are to be declared sacking offenses?

Oh, and ETA: This:

I hate this. I hate being here. I hate that you have to be
here. I hate that there’s evil and that I was chosen to fight
it. I wish a whole lot of the time that I hadn’t been. I know
a lot of you wish I hadn’t been, either. But this isn’t about
wishes. This is about choices. I believe we can beat this evil.
Not when it comes. Not when its army is ready. Now.
Tomorrow morning I’m opening the Seal. I’m going down
into the Hellmouth and I’m finishing this once and for all.


really seems as much evidence for my side as for yours. She's going in regardless. If they choose to come with her, fine, if not, that's fine too. She's not actually putting the basic plan up for debate, nor is she seriously putting in question her own leadership role ("I was chosen to fight this"--the Potentials merely "have to be here."). It's nice to remind the troops that the mission is essentially a volunteer one, but that's not actually new.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-02 22:45 ]
It's nice to remind the troops that the mission is essentially a volunteer one, but that's not actually new.

Uh huh, when did she do that in 'Empty Places' ? Was it here:
BUFFY
Look, I'm willing to talk strategy, OK, I'll hear suggestions on how to break this down, but this is the plan. We have to be together on this or we will fail again.
GILES
We are clearly demonstrating that we are not together on this!
BUFFY
(commandingly) Which is why you have to fall in line! I'm still in charge here.
RONA
Why is that, exactly?
BUFFY
Because I'm the slayer.


????

Fair point though, to you it is evidence for your viewpoint and that's what I mean about us (both I deliberately stress) having already decided. It's not a matter of being shown where our workings are wrong and seeing the light - both viewpoints are either unprovable (in places) or are supported by the text to varying degrees depending on how we weight different events/nuances. Fair enough ?

Why is acting on something a Bringer tells them prudent action that we should just chalk up to bad luck when it all goes kablooie, while Buffy's desire to act on something that Caleb tells them is a wildly rash act that merits getting her kicked out of the gang?

Cos it's something Caleb tells Buffy alone so they all have to trust her judgment (which they have reason to believe might be shaky both because of the apparent Spike blind-spot and because of what just happened - even if that arguably wasn't Buffy's fault) whereas the Bringer "gives up" its information in front of several people and apparently under duress (i.e. a spell). In that sense the Bringer's information is more objective (on the face of it it's intelligence "stolen" from the enemy) and also more likely to be correct (as far as the Potentials/Scoobs are concerned) than Buffy's unverified (and in their opinion unreliable) hunch. Doesn't seem like grasping at straws to me, seems like a textually obvious reason.

Buffy has certainly learnt better salesmanship ...

Hah, yeah or 'leadership' depending on how you're determined to spin everything ;).

Given that there's no textual reason to think that the new strategy resulted from her sacking (rather than just following her sacking) it's unfair to suggest that it is evidence of the "benefits" ensuing from her sacking. Fair enough?

Again, like Mal/God, it's about our individual impressions. To me she seems different in all the ways i've outlined (quippy not serious/snappy, unconventional not straight-forward, quick not slow, plays to her strengths instead of Caleb's etc.) to you she doesn't so to you it's not convincing evidence. It doesn't have to be watertight, y'see ? It's not a logical proof or an equation, it's a feeling, it's on balance (and it also tends to snowball so as to become almost tautological i.e. when you're convinced by something you tend to be convinced by things built on it and that convincing can even "back-propagate", when you're not you don't).
Isn't rope-a-dope where you let the other guy hit you a whole bunch 'til he gets tired? Or is it just a kind of non-engagement in general, also including avoiding getting hit?

I'm too hungry right now and, well, OK, too lazy in general to find bits of script or even describe scenes in detail to support any point I might have, so I'm offering pure unsupported opinion, should anybody care:

I felt like the characters I loved just weren't acting like themselves for chunks of S7, and in "Empty Places" in particular - as if a plot had been laid out and hitting the plot points was all that mattered. I can accept that the writers had reasons for Buffy to behave as she did, but I loved Buffy so much, and they made her hard to love for a while there. Which, sure, deliberate I guess, I just wasn't into it and didn't really "believe" it. Anyway, it's been interesting reading how others saw the motivations, but when her core of faithful scoobs turned on her, I didn't buy it, not a bit.

I do agree, though, that she changed really dramatically after that, as a leader and just ... kind of getting back to herself. Perhaps the change isn't so striking if you're dissecting plot points and practical tactics - but then that stuff was never really the strong suit of the show. (I mean, I agree with the nuts and bolts point snot monster mentioned above, but as long as the plot isn't full of gaping holes I can forgive the fact that, usually, the plots were just good enough that the true story hanging off them didn't collapse). If you're going by character interaction and just watching Buffy herself acting like Buffy again, it feels like a big change. That much was effective, for me at least.

Also, thanks for posting the link above, snot monster. I've never read any fan fic, so it'll be a first for me. But first - minestrone. Yum.
Also, WSS (yay, I know all the whedonesquey codes! Or are they just zeitgeisty codes?) re. responses being based on feelings and impressions. It's not as if any of us can prove that our impression is the right one. Well, except mine, obviously, that goes without saying.
Dammit, it's mine, how many times do I have to say this ?

Isn't rope-a-dope where you let the other guy hit you a whole bunch 'til he gets tired? Or is it just a kind of non-engagement in general, also including avoiding getting hit?

Well, I guess it's broadened out a bit in its meaning but yeah the original tactic was to lean against the ropes and take hits with the idea being (ETA: I assume) that you transmit the force to the ropes and let them absorb a lot of the energy (boxing ropes are bouncy) then when the other guy's knackered you've (hopefully) still got something in the tank.

ETA: Actually, according to Wikipedia (bastion of correctitude ;) it didn't have anything to do with absorbing energy, it just had to do with being able to get hit more times than other people (s'why only Ali and one or two others have ever really used it effectively). [/ETA]

I knew what was meant though, even if I prefer Crouching Tiger Hidden Neo (partly cos I was quite pleased with myself when I - maybe - made it up ;-) and partly cos those're obviously two of the films being homaged in that sequence).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-02-02 23:54 ]

[ edited by Saje on 2009-02-03 00:09 ]
Ooh--I like Crouching Tiger Hidden Neo!

I think we can all agree that that is objectively better than rope-a-dope. (I thought the point about "rope-a-dope" was that Ali basically ducked and weaved when it came to the real finishing shots like head-punches--but what I know about boxing could be written on the back of a--um--very small thing).

By the way, I agree to a point about the "we all see it our own way thing"--but I have, actually, had my views of the logic of episodes radically reconceived in arguments like this one (not this time, obviously). Sometimes there really is something you've just not looked at in the right light before. I make the strongest argument I can for my point of view precisely because I'd like to see the strongest argument against it.

Cos it's something Caleb tells Buffy alone so they all have to trust her judgment

I don't think any of them actually doubt the encounter with Caleb. In any case, they do know that he's hanging out at the Vineyard for a fact.

whereas the Bringer "gives up" its information in front of several people and apparently under duress (i.e. a spell).

Actually the Bringer is only given voice by the spell. It is made to cough up the info by the threat of the knife. Given that everything the Bringer is saying is about how it is, essentially, part of the First Evil's hive mind, it seems rather weird that it doesn't occur to any of them that it's A) deliberately coughing up false info and B) relaying the conversation back to HQ. Actually, the oddest thing in that scene, to me, has always been Giles slashing the Bringer's throat. I almost wondered at the time if this wasn't the beginning of the big "Ha Ha, Giles actually IS an agent of the First" reveal. You go to all this trouble to kidnap one of their guys and then you kill this valuable asset (not to mention this helpless human prisoner) just because it turns out he's--gasp--eeevil!? But that's just another brick in the "Who the hell is S7 Giles?" wall.

It's nice to remind the troops that the mission is essentially a volunteer one, but that's not actually new.

Uh huh, when did she do that in 'Empty Places' ? Was it here:


Sorry, I wasn't clear. I meant that it wasn't "new" that this was a volunteer mission, not that it wasn't "new" for Buffy to remind them of this. That's what I meant by "salesmanship" (which, in many ways, is interchangeable with "leadership" I guess).
I'm with Saje's agnostic approach to fandom opinion.

or WSS of course :)
(even Rowan who would disagree with me about whether or not the grass is green if s/he could)

1. I'm a guy. Not that it matters, just sayin'.
2. I don't disagree with people just to be disagreeing. But I don't agree with people just to give in, either. Not real used to having people argue with you and stick to it, are you? The only time I play devil's advocate is if I'm trying to get the other person to actually think about something they've said; in this case, I believe you've thought about it, I just think you're looking at it from a rather one-dimensional point of view (note: I'm on Buffy's side, too, most of the time - but, like it or not, the Potentials had some valid points.)


Given that everything the Bringer is saying is about how it is, essentially, part of the First Evil's hive mind, it seems rather weird that it doesn't occur to any of them that it's A) deliberately coughing up false info and B) relaying the conversation back to HQ.

I'll mention again here that Kennedy does protest Faith's plan, right from the start. She said then that she didn't think it was a good idea, and, again, she was right. (Also, for all the complaints about Kennedy wanting to be the boss, you'll notice that whenever she's overruled, she goes ahead and does her job, and does it pretty well.)

(and yes, Rowan, I'm sure that there is some nut job out there who believes it; I'm saying that it's not an argument that would generate over a hundred posts on a Whedonesque.com thread!)

Give it up, man. I know, you know, and everyone else reading the thread knows that what I said was that you could find support for nearly any position, not that it would cause a massive division in the fandom (like there's actually anything that doesn't...)
Not real used to having people argue with you and stick to it, are you?

Thank God there's one man with the courage to stand up against my evil, evil plans. Truly, you are humanity's last hope.

Give it up, man. I know, you know, and everyone else reading the thread knows that what I said was that you could find support for nearly any position

And I said otherwise where...? (Hint: I complained about you saying precisely that because it was not germane to the point I was making about the significance of disputes that do, in fact, "cause a massive division in the fandom.")

I'll mention again here that Kennedy does protest Faith's plan, right from the start. She said then that she didn't think it was a good idea, and, again, she was right. (Also, for all the complaints about Kennedy wanting to be the boss, you'll notice that whenever she's overruled, she goes ahead and does her job, and does it pretty well.)

Actually, Kennedy protests the plan to capture the Bringer. She makes no comment on the plan that evolves from the information that they get from the Bringer.

Of course, had she protested the plan, and then sucked it up and gone along with it anyway, that would just underscore the similarity between Buffy's and Faith's leadership.

ETA: I.e., it would show that just because someone "protests" a plan it doesn't follow that there's something inherently evil or wrong in going ahead with the plan anyway.

[ edited by snot monster from outer space on 2009-02-03 02:45 ]
When my brothers and I used to bicker, my mother would come striding into the room and feed us each a spoonful of sugar and tell us to "sweeten up." Just a thought? ;)

I prefer Crouching Tiger Hidden Neo

I think in the heat of the discussion we all forgot to give that the :-) it richly deserves!
Thank God there's one man with the courage to stand up against my evil, evil plans. Truly, you are humanity's last hope.

The world is doomed...
And I said otherwise where...?(Hint: I complained about you saying precisely that because it was not germane to the point I was making about the significance of disputes that do, in fact, "cause a massive division in the fandom.")

Uh-huh. Sure.
Actually, Kennedy protests the plan to capture the Bringer. She makes no comment on the plan that evolves from the information that they get from the Bringer.

Of course, had she protested the plan, and then sucked it up and gone along with it anyway, that would just underscore the similarity between Buffy's and Faith's leadership.

ETA: I.e., it would show that just because someone "protests" a plan it doesn't follow that there's something inherently evil or wrong in going ahead with the plan anyway.

1. Well, considering that the scene cuts away right after Giles kills the Bringer, and the next time we see any discussion it's Giles and Faith alone, we don't really know whether Kennedy - or anyone else - raised any objections or not. We don't even see the plan being laid out to the others.

2. Faith made it fairly plain that she was calling the shots the first time Kennedy objected. No real reason to think a second objection would fare any better even if we'd seen one.

3. I never said there wasn't a similarity between Buffy's and Faith's leadership; I only called attention to the fact that the place Faith took them wasn't the same place they'd gone to before.

4. So... if one of the Potentials protests the plan, they're wrong, but if they don't, they're still wrong. Huh. Can't say that's really any surprise.

5. catherine - Crouching Tiger Hidden Neo :-)
1. Well, considering that the scene cuts away right after Giles kills the Bringer, and the next time we see any discussion it's Giles and Faith alone, we don't really know whether Kennedy - or anyone else - raised any objections or not. We don't even see the plan being laid out to the others.

Right--in other words, your statement that she did object to the plan was incorrect.

2. Faith made it fairly plain that she was calling the shots the first time Kennedy objected. No real reason to think a second objection would fare any better even if we'd seen one.

You know, the quicker way to say all this is "oh, sorry, you're right, she didn't object to that plan."

3. I never said there wasn't a similarity between Buffy's and Faith's leadership; I only called attention to the fact that the place Faith took them wasn't the same place they'd gone to before.

Right--I made that mistake. I misremembered the "Bringer's weapon stockpile place" as being connected to the Vineyard. Of course, I'm still waiting for you to point out how the location of the Bringer HQ makes Faith's actions utterly incomparable to Buffy's.

4. So... if one of the Potentials protests the plan, they're wrong, but if they don't, they're still wrong. Huh. Can't say that's really any surprise.

Where did I say that they were wrong to protest the plan? Where did I say that they were wrong not to protest the plan? I think there may be something amiss with your monitor, Rowan. You certainly don't seem to be reading the words that I'm actually writing.
I'm beginning to wonder if you're reading them.
As someone who has read this entire train wreck - er, thread - I want to compliment you on your general patience, Rowan Hawthorn, and note that it is indeed clear that you're not disagreeing just to disagree.
Ah well, perhaps it's time for us all to turn in. It's been - mostly - fun ;).
I requested some time ago that people be nice in this thread. For the most part, everyone has, although some unwarranted personal attacks have crept in. At this point, I'm gonna call a halt to the Rowan v. snot monster proceedings.

As someone said upthread,

[I]'s not a right/wrong thing so there doesn't seem much point in getting het up over it


(I could have just written WSS, but he says so much, that wouldn't have been very helpful . . .)

catherine: bonus points. :-)
...but he says so much...

Hey, i'm sitting right here !

;-)

I prefer Crouching Tiger Hidden Neo

I think in the heat of the discussion we all forgot to give that the :-) it richly deserves!


Aww shucks, thanks you guys *takes bow, accepts flowers, drops award, drunkenly confesses lifelong sexual attraction to HM The Queen, is never heard from again*. I (may have ;) made it up in 2006 though so i'd somehow learned to live without the smiley which I was so clearly owed. In fact, in recent months i'd even almost entirely stopped running up to strangers and shouting "Where's my smiley you bastard !?".
SoddingNancyTribe, done. My apologies.

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