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June 26 2010

Who is your favorite Whedon Hero? In honor of Joss Whedon's birthday the folks at BuddyTV want to poll the fans and discover who is the favorite Whedon Hero.

Personally I voted for Buffy, because none of the others listed there were 'heroes' (IMO): Angel and Mal were both classic Anti-Heroes, Dr. Horrible was the origin story of a villain, and poor Echo seemed like a victim for the most part (although she was slowly learning to move into the hero role). But more likely this poll will deemed lame and the thread will be removed from the front page.

Duh! Buffy all the way! She broke the hero mold. Ya wit me, or agin me?
When they say hero, do they mean favorite main character or who we think best characterizes the merits of an actual hero? Because if it's the second why is Dr. Horrible included when he's the villain. Oh silly poll how you confuse me by not actually saying what you mean. If this is just a popularity contest then I vote for Dr. Horrible because bad boys are awesome, as proved by that Spike thread I just wandered out of.
So not fair that Angel is classified as a hero, but not Spike. So in the absence of my actual favorite hero, I voted for Buffy.

I think River should be on that list also.
I presume it's one per show.
Ah, you're apparently right Simon. Still unfair IMO, every Joss show has more than one hero. ;)
I think by 'hero' they just mean main character :)

(for me, it's Buffy all the way - no contest)
AGH!! Divided!! Buffy or Angel, well I voted Buffy in the last poll, maybe Angel in this one...really felt for them both.
I voted for Cap'n Mal...because.
Malcolm J "Crocodile"* Reynolds.

(Mal's not an anti-hero IMO since he has many/most of the heroic qualities, nor's Angel, same reason. Anti-hero doesn't mean "a hero but with a bit of a dark edge", it means a protagonist whose main attribute is that he doesn't have the qualities of a traditional hero e.g. a strong moral code, nobility, bravery, compassion etc. All of which both Mal and Angel have in spades)


* it could be, we don't know right ?
Gorramit. I was so conflicted between Buffy, Angel and Mal, but because it's a favourite's list, I had to go with Angel.

Saje, fair point. I do think that both Mal and Angel's moral ambiguity does lend hand to their 'anti-heroic' status though. Generally a traditional hero isn't afflicted with the ambivalence these two display at times, which I suppose is why they are categorised as such.

[ edited by cardea on 2010-06-26 10:59 ]
I think they mean protagonist.

And Mal. Or Angel. Mal/Angel sandwich? Hmmmmm....
redeem147...yes!! That is the most correct response to that kind of dilemma!! And Echo is doing so badly, now I feel guilty for not voting for her!!
Generally a traditional hero isn't afflicted with the ambivalence these two display at times, which I suppose is why they are categorised as such.

I dunno cardea, to me what we actually mean when we say "traditional hero" in this context boils down to "simplistic hero" i.e. a hero who's ALWAYS stalwart and true. Well as even Buffy (the most straightforwardly heroic of Whedon's hero characters IMO) knew, that's a lie. Complexity and more realistic characterisation don't make you an anti-hero, they just make you a more interesting kind of hero.

I guess i'd ask at which points we ever thought Mal or Angel weren't heroes ? When did Mal cause an innocent to suffer or knowingly turn his back on someone that needed his help (and that he actually could help) ? When did Angel ? When did either of them display cowardice or weakness or commit cold-blooded murder, when were either cruel ?

Angel's the closest to an anti-hero of the two I reckon, particularly during the "Angel goes dark" portion of season 2 - thinking lawyers in the basement - and the pragmatic "means justify the ends" Angel of season 5 - thinking Drogyn being thrown to the wolves - but even then, what he does is kill baddies (or cause, by mistake, goodies to be endangered) which is very much in keeping with even simplistic/traditional heroes. It's dark because of his despair and because the Buffyverse up to that point has had a prohibition against killing humans, no matter how evil (when Willow does it for instance it's a sure sign that she's gone bad) but that prohibition is actually quite rare in most hero stories (fictional hero cops or FBI agents kill people left right and centre for instance and are still considered heroes rather than anti-heroes).

It's a spectrum though not an either/or thing, a character can have many of the heroic qualities and still be an anti-hero, I just don't think either of them cross the line.
You make some good points, Saje. I think, for the most part, the traditional hero and the anti-hero are very much subjective archetypal contructs. In the context of Whedon shows, for instance, I could never assume the traditional hero to be strictly stalwart and true, and evidence would indeed prove the contrary. Having said that, there does tend to be implicit parameters applied across all series. Although Buffy is without doubt more complex than most heroes because of her moral fallibilities, her characterisation as a hero and as a leader often tends to be, dare I say it, linear. That is, despite her occasional flirtation with the dark side, she almost always emerges out the other end righteous, having recognised her moral responsibilities and the greater good.

Angel and - I agree with you - to a lesser extent, Mal don't always exhibit that conviction. How about the innocent Mal left behind to the ruthlessness of the Reavers in Serenity? You do have a point though, saving him may have risked their own lives. Then again, one could argue that heroes characteristically consider the lives of others even if doing so endangers them. If it wasn't the case, why would we need heroes in the first place? And if Mal was ready to give up everything he had, even his life at the hands of the Operative, to ensure the atrocities committed on Miranda were made known to the world, why wasn't he prepared to help an innocent? (Yes, it's probably an over simplification, but the point still stands :)

As you've pointed out, Angel does gravitate towards the status of anti-hero more easily and there are several justifications for this. Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been - leaving the entire hotel full of "innocents" - loose term, mind you, but still applicable - as prey to the Thesulac demon. Orpheus - drinks from the cashier to satiate his thirst with Faith as a witness. Amends - a display of weakness when he loses the will to continue fighting the good fight, and gives in to the 'monster' within. And of course, his 'dark' S2 phase. Nevertheless, what made him an extraordinarily rich character was his ability to repent and atone for his past actions. More than anything, Angel's search for redemption was endearing and almost always heartwrenching. He personified an ambiguity that is more often associated with the anti-hero.

Point taken though about the human-killing-prohibition, that hadn't occurred to me. Perhaps Mal and Angel straddle the line between hero and anti-hero?
I seem to remember major wank over the last "top Whedon heroes" list. Didn't they not include Buffy or something? Anyway, she's my hero of choice, hands down, for basically the same reasons everyone has been saying.
Perhaps Mal and Angel straddle the line between hero and anti-hero?

Like heroic-anti-heroes ? ;)

Then again, one could argue that heroes characteristically consider the lives of others even if doing so endangers them. If it wasn't the case, why would we need heroes in the first place?

BtVS is a younger show (I don't mean aimed at younger audiences I mean the characters are still finding out about how the world works), more idealistic (as adolescents and young adults should be). Buffy knows that things aren't black and white (as in 'Lie to Me') BUT to some extent she still acts as if they are. On BtVS being a hero is about never compromising no matter what, about always standing up for what's right. On that show the means don't justify the ends and solutions are rarely grey (from Buffy's hero perspective that is BTW - we see in 'The Gift' that Giles, as that show's designated grown-up, accepts that moral compromise is often part of achieving the best outcome for the most people when he murders Ben. A breach of the prohibition BTW that seems - uncharacteristically for a Buffyverse show - to pass more or less without consequence).

'Angel' and 'Firefly' on the other hand both feature more realistic heroes IMO, heroes that have realised that compromise and pragmatic choices are an essential part of the real world (in that sense they're not traditional heroes who're often allowed by their narratives to come up with a solution that doesn't involve any moral compromise). Buffy was, at one point, willing to damn ALL universes and dimensions because she wasn't willing to kill her sister. I think if it came to the crunch, both Mal and Angel would see that as utterly nonsensical.

And if Mal was ready to give up everything he had, even his life at the hands of the Operative, to ensure the atrocities committed on Miranda were made known to the world, why wasn't he prepared to help an innocent? (Yes, it's probably an over simplification, but the point still stands :)

Well, only by the end of 'Serenity'. That Mal is different to the Mal who leaves the guy behind at the robbery (an act which was meant to show us how far that Mal's sunk). Was it the pragmatic choice ? Yep, taking him might've doomed them all, killing his crew to save a stranger. But even by Mal's standards it was maybe a bit too pragmatic, bordering on callous. Certainly Zoe - who knows him best - seemed to think it was out of character. There's a difference though, between the extent Mal is willing to risk his own life and the extent to which he'll risk the people he feels responsible for and again, that's just a more realistic approach. By the end of 'Serenity' he's daring to see the bigger picture once again, his life is about more than "mere" survival, he's regained his idealism BUT his reasoning is broadly the same I think - he's trying to save the potentially millions of people that might be killed (or metaphorically enslaved) in the future if that sort of thing is allowed to continue and crucially IMO, he's already asked his crew for their permission to risk all their lives ahead of time. Buffy might die stopping it just because it's wrong, Mal only will because it's a good trade.

Maybe they were anti-heroes some of the time then ? On balance i'd still say they were heroes (but complex, realistically rendered heroes) but it's not totally clear-cut.
Don't even have to think about it for than a second. I had seen Buffy and I had seen Angel, but Malcolm Reynolds was the first Whedon main character I really connected with

[ edited by guardian_owl on 2010-06-26 15:25 ]
Perhaps Mal and Angel straddle the line between hero and anti-hero?

Like heroic-anti-heroes ? ;)


Exactly. Glad we're on the same page ;)

Buffy was, at one point, willing to damn ALL universes and dimensions because she wasn't willing to kill her sister. I think if it came to the crunch, both Mal and Angel would see that as utterly nonsensical.


Interesting point. I could certainly see that being the case for Angel (well, perhaps not nonsensical, rather infeasible for the greater good) but I question whether Mal would express the same sentiment. I couldn't imagine him leaving Kaylee, or anyone else for that matter, to die even at the expense of millions. I do agree about the more realistic nature of heroes in Angel and Firefly though; for me, that was their appeal. I was going to refute the last argument there about Mal, but every criteria stated would have made it redundant. Even still, I maintain that Mal possesses several key anti-heroic qualities, but as it's getting late over here, any further justification would be incoherent and just plain silly next to your well-articulated ones :)

Maybe they were anti-heroes some of the time then ?


I'm willing to compromise. (Although, like you, I still somewhat stand by my original argument ;p)
Removed- double post.

[ edited by Amrita on 2010-06-26 16:09 ]
So hard to choose between Buffy and Mal! Not to dis Buffy at all because she's a great hero, but I see Buffy as more obviously heroic because it's her destiny as the Slayer. She struggles with her desire to be a "normal girl", but her circumstances (Sunnydale) cry out for a hero and she fills the role.

Heroism for Mal is more of a choice, although he doesn't see it that way. Survival out on the Rim demands living below the radar and fighting over scraps. The odds are stacked so far against him just to survive, that to be even slightly heroic is an achievement. That he maintains as much honor, decency and charity as he does is quite an achievement. So I have to give it to Mal.
He isn't as natural a hero I don't think so in that sense it's more commendable.

I do agree about the more realistic nature of heroes in Angel and Firefly though; for me, that was their appeal.

Yeah, for me too. But then Buffy's youthful idealism is one of the things that appealed to me about her (maybe partly out of nostalgia for when I saw the world in those terms myself). On their respective shows they both worked.

...but as it's getting late over here, any further justification would be incoherent and just plain silly next to your well-articulated ones :)

Haha ! Out-time-zoned you ;).
I voted for Buffy simply because that is the closest I could get to voting for Spike. He was as much of a hero as Angel and earned it more than Angel, IMHO.
Haha ! Out-time-zoned you ;).


And the tables have turned. ...Unless you're still up, I guess.

He was as much of a hero as Angel and earned it more than Angel, IMHO.


I've always maintained that the issue of 'earning' their hero status has little relevance when it comes to both Angel and Spike. I'm pretty sure it's been reiterated more than enough times and it's likely I'll regret what I'm going to say next simply because it might spark hopefully what is only meaningful discussion.

Even though Spike fought for his soul - which tends to be the main argument when it comes to these debates - I'd like to think that the aftermath (i.e. what you do with it) is far more important. Yes, Spike sacrificed his un-life in Chosen and yes, it was extremely courageous and heroic of him. But a hero (or anti-hero ;) is defined - and this is IMO - by not only their acts of good will and sacrifice, but also their ability to repent and atone. A grand gesture shouldn't necessarily mean that Spike has redeemed himself; if anything, there's a long path ahead.

And then you get Spike in S5 of Angel. I think I've quoted this somewhere on here before - "I don't give a piss about atonement or destiny." Time and time again, Spike is shown to have little to no remorse about the people he's maimed and killed, and as in BtVS, the pain he felt immediately after gaining his soul stemmed from rather the burden of the memories. For much of the time, any instance in which he ousted Angel came down to the rivalry between the two. Take the Cup of Perpetual Torment - Spike predominantly wanted it because he didn't want Angel to get to it first, Angel lost because he was going through a phase of disillusionment about his champion status. And yes, you could argue that Angel had decades, centuries to step up to the plate, yet he spent them wandering rat-infested streets as a good-for-nothing embodiment of self-pity. BUT did he choose this? Did he consciously make the choice to re-gain his soul? No, and yet after many falls from grace and an enduring struggle to assert a moral stance, he became a hero. He was able to see the malignance of his ways and actively atone for them at first just for a reward, then to beat the other guy, but finally and most importantly, because it was right.

The difference between the two is that Spike did choose to reclaim his soul. If anyone had to step up to the hero plate, it was Spike. Yet he couldn't fully recognise the need until he began to associate with the Fang Gang and realised what it truly meant to fight the good fight. If anything, Angel's lack of choice made him a hero simply because he struggled against his will on a constant basis. And that's why the 'earning' of a soul has little relevance - it's about what you do with it that counts more.

(And Saje, that's not to say I've swung to your argument that Angel is a hero. He's still an anti-hero, only noble and.. heroic ;)
Yeah - seems like they really meant protagonist and not hero. Voted accordingly.
Well I was really enjoying the discussion about what constitutes the difference between a protagonist and a hero (and they said 'hero'), but I hate to see the thread devolve into a shipping war. :(
Apologies, embers. I think both Angel and Spike are heroes/anti-heroes in their own right, both rose up to the challenge of being a champion (how they got there differs, of course) and both eventually delivered. It's only unfortunate when one is discounted over the other.
Yeah i'm not interested in a "versus" kind of thing, it tends to end in tears ;). Added to that, I just don't feel the characters are in competition, I like 'em both, it's not an either/or thing.

That said, despite the post-event retcon, Joss' comments and what i'm sure everyone else is about to tell me, I don't actually think they came by their souls that differently because I don't believe Spike knowingly went to get his soul back, that's just what ended up happening. And he's not a brooder like Angel so he doesn't brood, he owns what he's done and moves on in his own matter of fact Anglo-Saxon fashion but I don't think that's the same as saying he doesn't feel remorse, it's more just a pragmatic acceptance that obsessing won't bring the people back. For all that he's a romantic (as is Angel), Spike didn't just like poetry (as Angel did), he wrote poetry and that needs an eye for what's actually there - to capture truth you have to be able to see it.

Angel likes a good wallow and I get that, i'm a Celt myself and particularly after a few drams it sometimes suits. It's just not everyone's style.
I don't actually think they came by their souls that differently because I don't believe Spike knowingly went to get his soul back, that's just what ended up happening.

The producers say he wanted it, Spike said he wanted it and that's what I saw in the cave. I still don't get why people don't get that.
Buffy's the best hero. She just is. She also had the best ensemble of co-heroes, of whom angel and spike are just two. And if heroes are measured by the caliber of their villains, then she is the clear winner by that metric as well. See, e.g., Angel, the Mayor, Glory, Dark Willow, Spike, the Gentlemen, et al. She's also the best Whedon hero as determined by her impact on popular culture, where she resonated and influenced like no other. In conclusion, and with due respect to Angel, Mal, and Dr. H, this is no contest.
The producers say he wanted it, Spike said he wanted it and that's what I saw in the cave. I still don't get why people don't get that.

Err, because it's not what I saw in the cave (though I get that you see it differently, that's actually not that hard to understand). And when did Spike say it before it happened, seriously, did I miss some dialogue in the cave (or beforehand) that'd make it totally black and white ?

At the time it was ambiguous, afterwards (presumably realising that their true intentions weren't totally apparent) they gave him some dialogue and said in interviews etc. that that's what they wanted. But outside the show (interviews etc.) doesn't determine how I interpret what happens on the show and dialogue after the fact can be viewed as being said for more reasons than exposing the simple truth (that these characters say and do things for their own realistic, internally motivated reasons is one of the things that makes them great IMO).
Squishy, hells yes!!! On the nose! Buffy's reach as hero extends beyond the others (eventhought I voted for Angel), she changed the face of herodom and revolutionised the way women in the action film and horror film (by film I also obviously include TV). Buffy is the both the best Hero and Protagonist.
Saje, I'm surprised when people say that the scene in the cave was ambiguous, to me it seemed like classic bait and switch. The fact that Spike wanted his soul all along was what made the scene funny (personally I fell onto the floor laughing, literally). The confirmation that he wasn't wanting the chip out is that obviously he didn't need the chip out in order to bite/hit Buffy, and it was all.about.Buffy.

Cardea: there is no reason to apologize to me, I'm a long time Spike fan, but obviously this poll was dealing with the stars of their shows, and Spike never got his own show, so he just doesn't get into this particular competition. They could have included Fray, and Dandelion (from Sugarshock)....
Ooh now Fray vs Buffy would have been tough, I mean Fray was helping the helpless before she knew she should! I can't remember the name of the little girl who she was always getting meds for, but that totally made her an epic hero!!
On the cave scene discussion, yeah I always thought that he had no intention of getting a soul! That any reference afterward was retcon or even in Destiny when Spike said he fought for it that he was exaggerating like; "well i was fighting and that was the end result", so to me the cave scene was weird and tricky, but I do side with Saje on the whole he didn't fight for it bit. You're not alone!!
I'm with you, redeem147. Everyone involved with the show, including the writers, say he wanted his soul. There was an interview with Jane Epenstien (sp?) I remember reading and she said she regreted the way that the scene was written as it wasn't intended to be as ambiguous as it turned out, they were just trying to have a 'shock twist', but it was always about him wanting his soul. Saying that he didn't want his soul is saying that the writers didn't know what they wrote, and I have a hard time believing that, I think it is more likely that some people just saw what they wanted to see.
Saying that he didn't want his soul is saying that the writers didn't know what they wrote, and I have a hard time believing that, I think it is more likely that some people just saw what they wanted to see.

No, it is in fact saying that i'm interpreting what they wrote rather than what they say afterwards in interview. You accept that Jane Espenson regrets the way the scene was written because she thinks it turned out too ambigous but then also say it can't possibly be seen any other way unless through wilful "blindness". Presumably I don't need to actually spell out the blatant contradiction there, right ?

I didn't start watching the scene with any agenda, i'm not anti-Spike now, wasn't then or before it (have in fact said several times on here that he's one of my favourite characters who, IMO, had probably the best arc of anyone on a Whedon show - if not then certainly second after Wesley) or anti-Spuffy or any of the other accusations that get thrown around whenever anyone dares to question the received wisdom about Spike. When I watched it I didn't read interviews or interact with the online fandom so what I saw was just that, what I saw. Given that perspective, what he says afterwards can also be interpreted as not necessarily the whole, plain truth.

Believe it or not, not everyone that disagrees with you is some enemy of the character and personally i'd frikkin' love it if people stopped acting that way. He's becoming an issue that we have to tiptoe around for fear of incurring the wrath of a few people who simply cannot tolerate opposing viewpoints on any issue relating to him and to me, for a character that's so interesting and worthy of discussion (even *gasp* dissenting opinions) I think that's a great pity.
indeed ... ;-)
I thought the "I did it on purpose" was a really clumsy retcon when I first saw Season 7 (though I didn't know the word retcon in those days), and even on rewatch, I think the cave scene comes off ambiguous at best. However, a demon trial by fire certainly seems to fit soul-getting better than chip-deactivating.

Favorite hero? Love them all (and Spike, too), but had to go with Buffy. As Giles said, "She's not like us." But sometimes she is.
No, it is in fact saying that i'm interpreting what they wrote rather than what they say afterwards in interview[s].

I don't know Saje - seems like you're treading on some awfully dangerous territory by potentially confusing two different things... :)

ETA: Especially if there are any Theocrats hanging around...

ETA:ETA: Then again, situations ripe for open discontinuity debates are ugly - no matter how you look at them.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2010-06-28 03:35 ]
Mal Reynolds, all the way! Who COULDN'T vote for that studmuffin? ;-)
While I guess I can see how some people might possibly have been fooled into thinking that Spike was trying to get his chip removed at the time, the idea that anyone out there could seriously think "That any reference afterward was retcon or even in Destiny when Spike said he fought for it that he was exaggerating" is stunning to me. To my mind, that's somewhat akin to still arguing that Tara and Willow were just doing spells together, not romantically involved by the end of season 4... Although, I guess, in a way, you could also argue that that was a retcon, since the producers weren't certain when they first started that storyline that it would progress all the way beyond metaphor; hmm... Maybe... arguing that Parker Abrams was really, actually a sweet guy, and it was only later retconning by the staff which made him a jerk?

And I'm not accusing anybody of Spike-hating, bashing, whatever - I just have trouble grasping the position. And not even based on anything which the creative staff have said regarding Spike fighting for his soul - I just feel the text itself, in season 6 and before and after, makes this pretty plain, and as such, it feels bizarre arguing about a basic, established fact.(My POV, ymm and apparently does, in some cases, v.) (I do see how it can provide some interesting thought as a "what if?" alternative theory, at the least.)

But then, at the time I saw the season six episodes - watching as they first aired, and also uninvolved at the time in the wider fandom - I always felt that Spike was going for his soul, so, never having had the other viewpoint, maybe I'm crippled in attempting to understand it. Hmm... my guess on Twilight's identity turned out to be wrong, it seems, and I do still feel, as things stand at the moment, that my idea might have made more sense. I wonder if, after the season ends, I might find myself arguing that "No, it really was [spoiler-text in case someone has actually avoided learning the identity and doesn't want their suspect list narrowed] !"

On original topic: I love most of the Whedon characters, but, Buffy Anne Summers is The Hero for me :)
In a hundred years, when we are all dust, and any interview or sound-bite from the writer's are long forgotten in the graveyard of the internet, some kid is gonna watch ep 6.22 for the first time ever. Then the discussion on Spike's real intentions will be interesting.

Buffy is my hero. All the way.
I'm generally accounted to be intelligent for my age, and yet when Season 6 first aired, I bought the mislead that Spike went to get his chip removed - though he could already obviously harm Buffy with it still in place - so he could become fully evil again, empowered in the way he viewed himself, and not neutered Spike who took a little trip to the vet and noodled about feeling helpless and unloved and impotent. I thought he wanted to make all those uncomfortable emotions stop.

In fact, after the reveal, I didn't think that the writers were playing bait-and-switch - I thought that the demon shaman was doing it - that he surprised Spike with an unwanted soul, for reasons I expected to be revealed later.

It wasn't until (very early) season 7 that I got that I was meant to see the soul as his goal all along, and of course, as jcs points out, in retrospect the endurance tests/rituals did seem more fitting for an ensoulment than a magical medical procedure. ; >

I didn't participate in online fandom at that time, didn't know what was being talked about, and only had my own interpretation to rely on - and such was mine.

(brinderwalt, those were some interesting TV Trope, etc. links - I read them all. Thanks.)

Re: the poll subject - I don't tend to have overwhelming favorite heroes or even characters, though I usually have a few I don't like as much - but if pressed I'd have to say that regardless of the poll, River is my favorite Whedon-flavored hero.
Voted Buffy.

So I'm the only one thinking he wanted to became human?
Yikes, brinderwalt is trying to pull me beyond the tvtropes.org event horizon (TV may not be a Serious Business but it sure is a complicated one). That said, there're worse ways to go ;).

...some kid is gonna watch ep 6.22 for the first time ever. Then the discussion on Spike's real intentions will be interesting.

Well, i'd say it'll get really interesting when two kids watch 6.22 for the first time ever but I get what you mean ;).

Wait a minute ... whaddya mean "...when we are all dust..." ? Aaargh *confronts his own mortality (it's a very Monday thing to do ;)*.

I just feel the text itself, in season 6 and before and after, makes this pretty plain, and as such, it feels bizarre arguing about a basic, established fact.

See, that's the thing. If the writers even think it was ambiguous then it being ambiguous is the only established fact. I get both takes on it, it's just one makes more sense to me based on the episode (note, BTW, i'm not actually necessarily saying he went there solely to get his chip removed either). It's also possible I may change my mind the next time I watch, who knows. I'm not totally wedded to the position or anything, it's just what, watching it in isolation without any thought of fandom/interviews/etc. the scene meant to me.

indeed ... ;-)

Heh ;).
Well, i'd say it'll get really interesting when two kids watch 6.22 for the first time ever but I get what you mean ;).

I'm betting that in the year 2110 there will undoubtedly be embittered Old Fans angry at all the New Fans posting on Whedonesque. Saje4 will be very upset I'm sure ;)
1st Joss
2nd captian Mel
I'm betting that in the year 2110 there will undoubtedly be embittered Old Fans angry at all the New Fans posting on Whedonesque.

Via some kind of Heads-in-Jars immortality tech a la 'Futurama' y'mean ? Cos I could get behind that idea ;).

*mutters grumbles* darn kids today with their 4D TV and Playstation XV (and flying cars, obviously), dunno they're born. When I was young and not just a head, this was all black and you had to click on links with what we used to call meez ... or summthin' like that, summa the details're gettin' fuzzy ... And get off my lawn !

(just getting in some practice ;)
In fact, after the reveal, I didn't think that the writers were playing bait-and-switch - I thought that the demon shaman was doing it - that he surprised Spike with an unwanted soul, for reasons I expected to be revealed later.

It wasn't until (very early) season 7 that I got that I was meant to see the soul as his goal all along, and of course, as jcs points out, in retrospect the endurance tests/rituals did seem more fitting for an ensoulment than a magical medical procedure. ; >

I didn't participate in online fandom at that time, didn't know what was being talked about, and only had my own interpretation to rely on - and such was mine.


Yeah, that. :)
"I thought that the demon shaman was doing it - that he surprised Spike with an unwanted soul, for reasons I expected to be revealed later."

And especially that and

"I thought he wanted to make all those uncomfortable emotions stop."

that ;). Not sure how I missed that (twice) this morning, sorry QG.

To me it's kind of the "Monkey's Paw" idea of the double-edged nature of wishes (something they'd referenced directly in season 5 with 'Forever') - you've a goal in mind but achieving it involves (much) more than you bargained for.

As I say, it was never necessarily just a chipectomy Spike was after to me. His feelings for Buffy unmanned him as he saw it and his desperation and despair at her not loving him (and maybe self-loathing too, for obvious reasons) drove him to seek a sort of lovectomy, a restoration of the demon to the clarity (he felt) he had before Buffy "polluted" him. And maybe lovectomies need some fairly heavy ritualistic mojo ? You can't get them on the NHS, I know that much ;).

Sometimes when you're feeling so bad it seems to have no end in sight (and for Spike that could even be literally true) you at least contemplate how much easier it might be to feel nothing at all, haven't most of us been there at some stage ?
That african demon asked Spike:

You were a legendary dark warrior - and you let yourself be castrated. Now you have the audacity to crawl in here and demand restoration?

Why would "restoration" mean operation or removal of the chip? Why would Spike go to Africa for an operation he could get in LA from the Wolfram & Hart (knew about them from Drusilla)

The word restoration is used also in the spell to restore Angel's soul.

But I thought he wanted to became human due to his insistence in "Buffy will get what she deserved" (I thought Buffy deserved a human boyfriend)
But he said it so bitterly... in fact, didn't he even say he would give "that bitch" what she deserved, or am I misremembering? The tone certainly suggested bitch, anyway.

"Let yourself be castrated" implied the chip, so I don't think it's so odd that many of us assumed the restoration referred to restoration to his previous evil killer self.

I don't find it hard to fathom that a lot of people assumed he was after a soul (or becoming human... never thought of that, but it's a cool idea, anca) but I am finding it sort of weird that people who assumed soul are so bewildered that many people assumed chip. Given what was on the screen, I don't see how it's an unreasonable take on the "text."

When it became clear he had been after his soul, I was a bit annoyed by the mislead. It wasn't ambiguous enough to my mind. It's hard for me to rewatch and be like, oh yeah, he's after his soul. So I find it jarring and kind of annoying. Clumsy writing IMO.
(I thought Buffy deserved a human boyfriend)

Well, she deserved one that could love her fully (and that she could love in turn - sorry Riley man ;) IMO but a) cos I think it doesn't mean an emotionally wounded Spike agrees and b) if a human boyfriend is actually what she deserved then just asking for his soul back wouldn't do it right ? Even with his soul he's still a vampire.

But he said it so bitterly... in fact, didn't he even say he would give "that bitch" what she deserved, or am I misremembering? The tone certainly suggested bitch, anyway.

Yep (well nearly ;), previously he'd phrased it "Give her what's coming to her." and "Bitch is going to see a change."both of which are a lot less cuddly than "Buffy will get what she deserves", even ignoring his tone when he says it (though just as able to be read at least a couple of ways, more in the line of a deliberate misdirect by the writers from your perspective anca, embers etc.).

Why would "restoration" mean operation or removal of the chip?

Because doing so would restore him to his previous (unchipped) state. And additionally, castration doesn't need to refer to the chip (or rather, not just the chip) since as QuoterGal says, he'd been rendered impotent ('castrated') not just by the chip (and in Buffy's case not at all by the chip) but also by his feelings (in Buffy's case solely by his feelings).

Also, an ensouled Spike (i.e. William) was never a "legendary dark warrior" so restoration to that state wouldn't involve a soul.
"Let yourself be castrated" implied the chip

I don't think it refers to the chip, because he didn't let / he was captured and the chip was implanted in him against his will.

IMO "castrated" - "restored" meant something was taken away and something will be given back and I thought it referred to his humanity, because he let Drusilla bit him.

b) if a human boyfriend is actually what she deserved then just asking for his soul back wouldn't do it right ? Even with his soul he's still a vampire.

Imagine my disappointment when he got only his soul back, I thought the demon tricked him.

As for the "bitch", most famous Spike quote is "out.for.a.walk...bitch".

I have just explained how I see it. Later, they all were saying it was all about the soul, so the soul it is.
Later, they all were saying it was all about the soul, so the soul it is.

Ultimately that's what these discussions on differing interpretations often boil down to. If you think that what the writers say in interview etc. is the final benchmark, no matter what we see onscreen, then he intended it all along, they've been very clear about that (as I now know ;). If you think that only what we see onscreen is the case and that that's open to your own interpretation then it's ambiguous.

Personally I don't believe the writers' interpretations are definitive, I think they're "just" another interpretation, same as anyone else's, and depend on justifications from the text, same as anyone else's - if the text is ambiguous then more than one interpretation is possible. But i'm off to footie in about 20 minutes and besides, it's just too bloody hot to get involved in yet another discussion about canon ;).
In case I didn't make it clear earlier, I do understand how people could have seen it either way at the time. There were ambiguous and misleading lines - I believe Spike did say something like "Give the bitch what's coming to her" when he was first talked to the demon, catherine. Honestly, my reaction to that line at the time was "Wow, they're really trying desperately to create some doubt about what Spike's doing, aren't they?"; but that is one of a series of bits which I do see how they could be interpreted to add up to the other possibility. I think I was a little surprised when I first learned that large numbers of people had thought chip-removal (for one thing, I had no reason to assume that I could figure out something about a Whedon show which fooled a significant amount of people - could be the only time I [possibly] did); but, especially with the thought I've given to the subject since the question has come up, I can certainly understand how people could have reached that conclusion. The only thing which really stunned me was when I came across people who would still argue now, after BtVS season 7 and after, and all these years, that Spike was just trying to get his chip removed. And not just as a possiblity, but still just refusing to believe anything about Spike fighting for his soul. (And even that POV doesn't seem as incomprehensible to me since I've been working on these posts.) If I poorly phrased something which made it sound like I thought that anyone ever believing, back at the time/as first watching the show, that Spike was fighting to get his chip removed was stunning or unbelievable, etc., I apologize.
Gotcha, LKW, I think I was misreading you a bit.

it's just too bloody hot to get involved in yet another discussion about canon ;).

Oh puh-lease. Don't even complain about whatever passes for hot in the UK! ;) (<--half-hearted sweltering winky emoticon, with nose melted off)
I know, I know, we're pathetic ;).

(it's all relative though)

The only thing which really stunned me was when I came across people who would still argue now, after BtVS season 7 and after, and all these years, that Spike was just trying to get his chip removed. And not just as a possiblity, but still just refusing to believe anything about Spike fighting for his soul.

It's not that I refuse to believe it, I totally see that perspective, it's not bafflingly off-the-wall or anything, it's just that the other way makes more sense to me (given that I don't accept that what the writers say in interview determines how I should interpret the show).

Imagine if you were as sure that he wasn't as you (actually) are that he was LKW. Then you see early season 7. Do you just completely change your mind and abandon what you thought to be the case or do you incorporate Spike's claim into your interpretation the same way you would any other piece of new information ? Do you wonder about "unreliable narrators" or how difficult it might be for him to tell Buffy the truth (if the other, lovectomy version, was true) ? Think "Well that might be true but from his point of view, I can totally see why he might frame things in a slightly more flattering light. After all, who would it harm and who would ever know except Spike ?" ? To me, none of those ideas were then or are now unreasonable as one take on the events we actually see.

(with the caveat that, as I say, to me it was about more than just getting his chip removed)
Huh. I turn my back for one second - which felt like a thousand years for exams, to be honest - and we're now discussing varying interpretations of Spike's re-ensoulment. Again, huh. ;)

I'm probably late coming into this but I'll just throw it out there anyway. When Spike left to see the shaman I, too, thought his vampiric/demonic self was to be restored. Funnily enough, not by the removal of the chip; I figured it'd be achieved through mystical means since it was a shaman he was seeing. I should have seen it coming, but I was actually surprised that his soul was restored instead. And even though it was later obvious that that was the intention, I thought even Spike was mildly shocked when he was imbued with his soul. Ambiguity at its best. Or worst.

it's just too bloody hot to get involved in yet another discussion about canon ;).


And I'm shivering over here begging for any degree of warmth. I'm sadly disappointed every single time.
Cardea, i think most people who stick to their "spike wasn't going for a soul" guns may agree with you that it wasn't as simple as a chip removal operation, that he wanted to be the monster he once was which is more complex. As saje mentioned a 'lovectomy' may have been required as he had become Buffy's bitch not just love's bitch so your pov is totally in tune with what a lot of the previous replies were saying.
[Apologies for the tardiness of this reply; having a bit of a busy patch here in real life.]

"It's not that I refuse to believe it, I totally see that perspective, it's not bafflingly off-the-wall or anything, it's just that the other way makes more sense to me...(with the caveat that, as I say, to me it was about more than just getting his chip removed)"

Yes; if it wasn't clear to me when I first came across this thread that your position on this issue isn't to that extreme which I had occasionally come across and been kind of confounded by, Saje, it certainly is now. Rather, we just have differing opinions on which option makes more sense for the character.

"Imagine if you were as sure that he wasn't as you (actually) are that he was LKW. Then you see early season 7. Do you just completely change your mind and abandon what you thought to be the case or do you incorporate Spike's claim into your interpretation the same way you would any other piece of new information ?"

Honestly, I'm inclined to think that, personally, I'd probably change my mind. Though that's just speculation on a hypothetical scenario... As I mentioned, I may be put to the test by the end of the season 8 comics; I'm curious myself to see my reaction if Twilight, and some character behavior, remains as it currently seems... (I'm trying to think of a comparable case during BtVS which may have contradicted my assumptions... When Into the Woods aired, I thought Riley was just being an unreasonable jerk. On subsequent re-watches of seasons 4 and 5 - while Riley still made several mistakes and bad calls, of course - I could see much more of what he was talking about and understand much better where he was coming from, changing my mind about the baselessness of his actions. I'm not sure that example maps perfectly onto this question, but that's what comes to mind at the moment.)

Just because I personally might change my assumptions if given contradictory evidence doesn't mean that I find your take to be actually unreasonable, though. Really, I suppose my commenting on the issue was spurred by comments I've seen on a few occasions which seemed far less reasoned in flatly rejecting any thought that Spike could possibly have fought to regain his soul. (Well, as well as not essentially giving tacit assent to the "fought to be dechipped/re-eviled" idea as a universally accepted one with my silence.)
Yeah, I think it's difficult to say which way you'd land in that situation LKW (kind of imagining our response and then our response to that response). One time that springs to mind was with the Buffy doubles thing from "season 8" as pertains to "The Girl in Question" mainly because, let's be honest, it was never particularly convincing even at the time (i.e. it clearly wasn't Sarah Michelle Gellar). But that's maybe not a comparable situation either (I was happy to change my mind there because the retcon made more sense to me).

Can't think of any Buffyverse volte-faces off the top of my head but I did one for 'The Dark Knight' (**spoilers for which follow**). At one point I believed that Batman had decided to go for Dent himself (i.e. he was risking his own happiness and the woman he loved for the sake of the people of Gotham) but after discussion and re-watching (and eventually, reading the scriptbook) it becomes apparent that he definitely falls for the Joker's trick (rather than being one step ahead the whole time). That one was pretty tough to reverse in my mind just because a) I felt the original idea was more powerful emotionally and b) it fit better with my own image of the character from the comics (i.e. he usually is one step ahead the whole time) but ultimately, the new way makes more sense for the film, fits more pieces more closely.

And I'm shivering over here begging for any degree of warmth. I'm sadly disappointed every single time.

Well, it serves you right for being the wrong way up doesn't it ;).

(these kinds of temperatures - or worse, much higher - on Christmas day would take some getting used to I reckon. Lived in the middle east and Africa so I know hot, it's just that most houses in those countries have one crucial piece of equipment that we in dear old temperate Blighty lack, which is to say air con-frikkin'-ditioners)
Well, it serves you right for being the wrong way up doesn't it ;).

(these kinds of temperatures - or worse, much higher - on Christmas day would take some getting used to I reckon. Lived in the middle east and Africa so I know hot, it's just that most houses in those countries have one crucial piece of equipment that we in dear old temperate Blighty lack, which is to say air con-frikkin'-ditioners)


Hey, we're ahead of you all. So.. by that illogical logic, you're the wrong way down ;p

Christmas in summer is actually one of the things I look forward to, although it would be nice to experience at least one white Christmas. It's not too bad most of the time down here. No air-conditioners? That's a completely foreign concept to me ;)

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