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Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2 x 11: "Ted"


Originally posted at the Jossverse Big Damn Love Fest: http://big-damn-fest.dreamwidth.org/3818.html


RUNNER-UP: Best Meta (Not Fade Away) category of the Wicked Awards Round 10
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***
Warning and Disclaimer: I have thoughts - and a lot of feelings - about "Ted".  This is quite serious, and more than a little personal; some very triggery subjects will be discussed. I’m not kidding. If this isn't your thing, by all means feel free to hit the back button right now, and no hard feelings.  If you chose to continue otherwise, considered yourself welcome as well as forewarned. But please leave your weapons at the threshhold before you come in. Then wipe your feet on the mat, and help yourself to cookies.  (Or hot cocoa with extra marshmallows.) Also, I apologize for the formatting but LJ is being very disobedient tonight.

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And then there's the simple truth that when you engage in violence, accidents happen. We aren't robots. We can't turn off and turn on with the flip of a switch--and if we could, then we'd be okay with murdering people to gain our own ends. That fact that Buffy's violence is motivated by love is essential; it is both dark and light--she dances on the razor edge and she only has her instincts to guide her. - angearia
http://2maggie2.livejournal.com/33960.html
[Serious stuff ahead - I'm NOT kidding....]

***
In 1958 Lana Turner’s 14 year-old daughter Cheryl Crane stabs her mother’s boyfriend to death, allegedly in an effort to protect her mother.  (The man, Johnny Stompanato, had gang connections and a history of violence behind him.)  The court rules it justifiable homicide.


***


Thirty years later another teenage girl, oldest of four siblings, reads about Cheryl Crane, admires Crane’s courage, and wonders if she would be able to do the same, if the need arose. Her (second) stepfather is a large and powerful man; her mom is barely 5’3”.  Would a baseball bat be sufficient?  A kitchen knife? She decides on a rusty WW1-era bayonet and hides it by her bed. Her mom finds it and removes it without a word.


***


In the end, it’s unnecessary anyway; her mom divorces her husband and her daughter can breathe again, a little, and home becomes a safe place to be for the first time in years. It’s not that the girl wanted to hurt her stepfather.  She knows that would be a horrific act; she also knows that there are people out there, other girls, for whom such things are unimaginable.  But she’s been surrounded by violence her entire life, and so it’s not off the table. What is unimaginable in all her dark reveries, risking death for the sake of her family, is the notion of defending  herself from her stepfather. Not once does that occur to her.
***
In 2012 the same girl, now a woman, finally watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time. She enjoys the cleverness and subversion of the “high school is hell” metaphors, the witty dialogue, the genre tropes and subversions. She is entertained and amused, even moved at times, but she doesn’t really identify with the pretty, perky ex-cheerleader at the center of the story.  It doesn’t really touch her own experiences, and isn’t remotely scary, even when Buffy goes down to meet her death at the hands of the Master for the first time. (There are a total of seven seasons, after all; ergo, nothing to worry about.)


***


And then the woman watches “Ted” and for a few moments, she is terrified - for Buffy, and for the girl who hid a bayonet by her bed all those years ago. Memories she’s (thought she’s made) made peace with and packed away tumble out unbidden, like an overstuffed dresser drawer.  She knows that her experience is not identical to Buffy’s, after all, and there’s a relief in that; the girl she once was couldn’t fight back, couldn’t protect her herself much less her family, and never even dared to protest or sass back; Buffy can, and does. She has resources that girl of long ago, and most abused children, can never dream of - confidence, physical strength, strength of character and will, resourcefulness, as well as devoted friends who come to her aid.


***


But Buffy Summers is just a girl, after all, a 16 year old girl operating on instinct. She’s been given a “license to kill” (demons) and almost zero guidance in how to use it.  The Watchers’ Council cares nothing for her welfare, or for the countless girls who have preceded her; what matters is that the Slayer does her job properly and follows the arcane rules imposed upon her, traditions handed down through the centuries.
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Ted Buchanan, as it turns out, would make an ideal Watcher by the Council’s standards, barring his use of physical violence, and even that’s not a sure thing. After all, the original Shadowmen chained a girl and forced the power of the demon upon her; the Watchers' Council may be more “civilized” on the surface, but they uphold a terrible tradition. The Slayer is used, discarded and replaced when she rebels or no longer suits the councils needs. Surely more personal abuse and violations of Slayers by individual Watchers is not beyond the pale.


***


Likewise Ted demands obedience from a string of women, discarding and destroying them when they disobey him or are no longer useful. How many Slayers throughout time have come before Buffy (later Kendra and Faith)? How many other people has Ted hurt or killed, women who wouldn’t follow the program, in addition to the four wives in his closet?  The Watcher’s Council and Ted both operate within closed systems; they may allow minor changes and adjustments so long as the original paradigm is preserved.


***
Of course Buffy defeats Ted, motivated not just by her Slayer instincts but the instincts of a daughter and friend to protect the people she loves. She’s the Hero, after all. And yet she suffers for her actions; social ostracization, guilt, and shame. Heros may not end up in court charged with justifiable homicide but there are still consequences to bear. (There are always consequences.)


***


Or at least there are if the Hero is a teenage girl. Violence from men is so common as to be unremarkable; violent acts committed by women are still considered shocking. It’s no accident that at the end of the episode Buffy and Joyce agree to a rewatch of Thelma and Louise, a movie that disturbed and polarize audiences because two female protagonists commit violent acts against male characters onscreen; the same violence by male protagonists is a commonplace in movies, and a guarantee of box office sales.


***


So Buffy succeeds but at a cost.  Her mother is safe but heartbroken and terribly lonely, unable to even look her daughter in the eye. Whatever her personal animosity towards Ted, much of it justifiable in light of his behavior, the last thing on earth Buffy ever wanted to do was to hurt her mother. The bond between them, one that suffered fissures long before “Ted Buchanan” came into their lives, is further damaged.  And yet they love one another, deeply, no one questions that, and there’s the rub.  The anger and love are warped and woven into one another so tightly that what poisons their bond also strengthens it.


***


And so it is with her best friends, with her mentor, with everyone who comes within her circle. Violence begets violence. It stains and spoils everything it touches; it cannot be put back into a tidy little box, locked up and tossed away.  We can atone for it but we cannot undo it.


***


But this a fictional story and in fiction, unlike real life, there must be some catharsis for the viewer, a chance to release the anxieties the story has provoked, to relax and breathe again. And so it is for the characters themselves, or at least it seems at the moment.  The episode ends happily, one might say conventionally, enough. More dramatically than the story of girl with the bayonet, perhaps (real life has no resolutions, remember); but Buffy and her mother come to an uneasy, unspoken peace on the back porch, their home (women’s space) reclaimed, and they can breathe again, for a time. Rupert Giles and Jenny Calender share a passionate kiss for the first time, Xander and Cordelia giggle while Buffy averts her eyes. It’s an ending worthy of Shakespearean comedy: All’s well that ends well.
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Except, of course, that we’ve seen the entire series, and we know too much. The moments that made us smile and cheer when we first watched are painful now. (Not as painful as the memory of that bayonet and all it represented, but certainly poignant.) The characters onscreen have the luxury of perpetual innocence; they can’t know yet that Buffy will hesitate to kill her lover and it will cost Jenny her life, and Giles his only chance at love; that Buffy will eventually run a sword through her lover’s heart. The truth of Buffy’s calling will be forced upon Joyce at the worst possible hour and their relationship will be very nearly destroyed.


***


Much has been made of Buffy’s “daddy issues”,  at the cost of the complex mother/daughter relationship, and so scholars and fandom inadvertently repeat the sins of Ted Buchanan, and of the Watchers Council.  We forget, dismiss or overlook the fact that it always comes back to this: the love between a girl trying to grow up in an uncertain and frightening world, and a lonely mother so deeply in denial she cannot see what’s in plain sight before her eyes.


***


And Ted’s fingerprints (do robots have fingerprints?) can be found in the final hours of Buffy’s story when Giles and “General Buffy” and their friends represent the last vestigal traces of the WC, haunted by ghosts and locked into a closed and destructive paradigm. Violence begets violence.


***


In 2012, Buffy became my Hero - by which I mean my fictional hero, my avatar, as opposed to real life heros such as my mother.  (Make no mistake - in her capacity to love and endure, I consider my mother heroic.) My brothers grew up with Spiderman and Batman and Hans Solo; with countless tales of soldiers and kings throughout the ages. I had to wait until I was in my 40’s to find her.


***


Was it worth it the wait? Yes, it most certainly was. Yet I can’t help feel a little wistful that Buffy Summers wasn’t around in the 1970's or 1980’s; I certainly would have loved her then as I do now, if perhaps for different reasons. I can hope that in the years since that at least one other girl or boy, etched with anger and violence, haunted by dreams of murder that are so common as to be unremarkable, has felt just a little less frightened and alone because of her.
I'm glad that that girl didn't have to use her weapon but I really can understand her desire to do it. I think she was really really strong to just survive and become an intelligent and free person. And, yes, I felt also shocked when I read many comments in the ex Buffymaniac, now Serialmente, in which everyone is upset about Buffy's violent reaction and no one is upset about Ted's abusive behaviour. I wish that all the girls in this world could react as Buffy did because sometimes it's really about surviving, especially when a man hits you. So yes, the audience overlooked Ted and overlooked abusive men in BtVS mostly because I believe that we overlook them in RL. We are so used to them that we forget.
I loved the meta and I loved Angearia's quote at the beginning - so perfect - and I'm sending you a big bear hug. Because of reasons.
Thank you thank you sweetie - I had a feeling you would appreciate it. I'm sending hugs back - no reasons necessary, just because. And Angearia had so many wonderful things to say about that episode I could barely begin to pick the "right" quote - any one of twenty would have done equally well.

I felt also shocked when I read many comments in the ex Buffymaniac, now Serialmente, in which everyone is upset about Buffy's violent reaction and no one is upset about Ted's abusive behaviour.

The same attitude on American sites - we talked about this on your LJ a little before - is what inspired me to write this entry. (I was originally going to write about "Him" for the Big Damn Love Fest.) And that attitude was prevalent even on a site with an openly "feminist" orientation. "Feminist" does not mean we all believe the same thing, of course; but the attitude that "Buffy went over the line" was not only nearly-universal, but it became the focus to the exclusion of everything else in the episode.

This episode fits very neatly with the themes of the season, but it's still a show about a girl in high school, it's touching on a lot of the themes and tropes common in RL as well as movie and high school movie genres. I watched it the first time wishing that Buffy could just relax and give the guy a chance, let Joyce have someone in her life - until the scene at the mini golf course. The moment he threatens to slap her is when everything shifts for me, and I think the episode communicates that. The musical cues are suddenly ominous instead of comedic, the extreme close-up of Ted's and Buffy's faces conveys the sense of threat and danger, of coming too close into her physical space - crossing boundaries, just as he does verbally with the threat and physically later in her bedroom.

And if the theme is that of "power and responsibility (and misuse of it)" how can we focus on Buffy's "misuse" of her Slayer powers, and not talk about the fact that, like I said, the WC's abuse of power in making her a Slayer, in appointing Giles her Watcher; about Joyce's abuse of power in bringing a dangerous man into the home (and I say that as someone with great sympathy for Joyce); and most especially Ted's responsibility to NOT harm, terrorize, control and threaten other people? I'd say Buffy is still the most responsible person in the entire episode.

And her "killing" Ted here is NOT analogous to Faith stabbing the Mayor's assistant in S3, IMO. I don't think the show is saying the two acts have the same meaning so much as fandom conflates the two - it's a contrast, not a parallel. Buffy was fighting to protect herself and her mother's lives.

You made me tear up....

Much has been made of Buffy’s “daddy issues”, at the cost of the complex mother/daughter relationship, and so scholars and fandom inadvertently repeat the sins of Ted, and of the Watchers Council.

This. So, so this! The WC personified by Giles tries to break up the matriarchal home of the Summers women, in fact, he tries to replace Buffy's mother with himself. And while he loves Buffy, he does not love her unconditionally - he tries to shape her in ways which benefit his agenda, the ideology he stands for; as opposed to Joyce Summers, who - while sometimes confused - loves her daughter wholly. There is some aspect of proprietary love - or 'love' as a special expression of ownership - vs a mother's love here. And, yes - fandom, critics, whathaveyou are all too dismissive of the female relationship (and not only this mother-daughter relationship!) and put overly focused importance on Buffy's relationships with (various) men.

Thanks for writing this! And all the very best to you! :-)
Hey sweetie, I'm so glad you came by! I was hoping you would, I've missed seeing you about lately. Still working hard in the belly of the beast?

When I first watched the show I was frustrated by how little we see of Joyce, to the point that she literally disappears (from the screen) in S4, because I know how complicated that mother/daughter bond is - I lived it, and still do, as someone with a divorced mom, from a "broken home" as the saying goes. You depend on one another, and the parent/child roles transfer back and forth between you. I have more sympathy for my mother's experience now as an adult in a long-term relationship. And that seems strange given that motherhood is as much subtext as fatherhood on the show - Buffy becomes Dawn's mother, and she and Faith become the "mothers" of the new line of Slayers (the Slayers have two mommies!), they "sire" the new army. And sisterhood and motherhood are not really separate but part of a continuum IMO - which I think the transfer from Joyce-Buffy to Buffy-Dawn acknowledges.

Watching the show increased my sympathy for my mom and her experience, but mostly via S6; Buffy's isolation and weariness, financial struggles, her untreated depression etc reminded me both of my mother and myself. (Of course, right?) But I was hungry for some of those issues to be acknowledged or touched upon in while Joyce was still alive; the story is from Buffy's POV so maybe that's realistic, but there's no sense of the financial difficulties for instance; we never see Joyce working or paying bills; she might as well be wearing June Cleaver's pearls. I also wanted her to "see" who Buffy was, to become part of the story rather than on the periphery of it, the butt of the joke. Joyce apparently has no trauma whatsover from Helpless that we can see, and the fallout from "Gingerbread" is never dealt with or acknowledged between the two of them, the way it is here in "Ted". And I think that's sloppy, or careless/thoughtless writing & plotting.

You can imagine how disappointed I was when Joyce disappeared from S4 and how happy to see her come back in a big way in S5; add Dawn to the mix and the importance of female (and familial) bonds was very important to S5 and I loved that...and then they killed off Joyce.

It's all the more irksome that as there were "father figures" aplenty on the show but very few mother figures. There was no one to replace Jenny or Joyce when they were killed, no other mature women figures, except Maggie Walsh, who I was hoping would become a mentor to Buffy but turns out to be a villain. And the one prominent female Watcher on the show also turns out to be a villain. For all the show's girl power/feminism etc, mature women still do not exist, or they are erased quickly.

To the show's credit, Joyce lingers as a "ghost" in S6-7 (in NA, in her photograph, as the First) so the bond is still acknowledged, but again there are no other mature women whom Buffy relates to. I think that's a "blind spot" in Joss's thinking/worldview because, again, it's been normalized.

Wow. Beautifully done, and you highlight something that really encompasses not only Ted, but the series as a whole - there is something for everyone. Something that touches us, speaks to us, resonates in our lives. It's the reason that people are still hanging onto this fandom after so many years.

In a way, your story reminds me how I feel about The Body, which I think it truly my favorite episode. Although my grandmother didn't pass suddenly like Joyce, the bright and raw pain, the shock, the gaping hole created in the character's lives so closely echoes what I feel, even years later, when I think about my grandmother. And that's why it speaks to me. And I cry every time I watch it, and actually usually enjoy doing so.

Thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts.
I had a really nice reply and then Safari crashed before I could hit post *grumble* But basically, just YES to all of this, every word. Thank you for reading it and sharing; and I'm very sorry about your grandmother.

Something that touches us, speaks to us, resonates in our lives. It's the reason that people are still hanging onto this fandom after so many years.

Oh so much yes; you express it so perfectly. I was afraid when I joined this fandom that everything had been said and discovered already, and yet there are still places for me to "be", still room to dig through the layers and find things that have been overlooked or under-discussed. Or just sit back and laugh and cry.

the gaping hole created in the character's lives so closely echoes what I feel

THIS.

When my grandfather - the last link to my father, who died when I was three, and my last living grandparent - died when I was in college, it was like you describe: no surprise, he'd been going downhill horrifically for some time. But I thought my mom would call me when I was in my dorm room with the news and I would cry; I had it all pictured in my head. I didn't expect to get the news first and have to call her, and listen to HER cry. That, almost more than his death, was so painful, like a nightmare.

Death touches us all but we don't know how to deal with it very well do we? At least not in the last 150 years or so. It's something to be held at bay, fought against and defeated; or hidden away and sanitized. I think The Body was wonderful and brave and true; and I can understand people not liking it, or understanding it (and the last third or so loses my interest a bit, if only because it's impossible to sustain the intensity of the first act), but to say that Joss wrote it to show off or just to win awards? NO, just no. And I'm not Joss' biggest booster by any means.

Have you seen the picspam for The Body that eleusis_walks posted in 2010, focusing entirely on the first part with Buffy finding her mother? Her range of emotions here - I. Just. Can't. Sarah pours everything into it. http://eleusis-walks.livejournal.com/45066.html#comments
I love everything about this post.

It’s no accident that at the end of the episode Buffy and Joyce agree to a rewatch of Thelma and Louise, a movie that disturbed and polarize audiences because two female protagonists commit violent acts against male characters onscreen; the same violence by male protagonists is a commonplace in movies, and a guarantee of box office sales.
Oh wow, I completely forgot about this part in the episode. What a brilliant catch. ONE OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES FOR A REASON. <<<333

And yeah, I don't understand how anyone could possibly watch "Ted" and not sympathize with Buffy. I mean, how UNACCEPTABLE for a woman to fight back against her abuser with everything she has. SMH.

In conclusion: You speak to my soul. And thank you especially for sharing your personal experiences -- I can imagine that must have been incredibly difficult, but it's definitely appreciated, especially by those of us who have also grown up in abusive homes. {hugs}

♥ ♥ ♥
Oh wow, I completely forgot about this part in the episode. What a brilliant catch. ONE OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES FOR A REASON. <<<333

I've got my tenth anniversary DVD edition right on the shelf here. that movie rocked my world - I saw it in college the same year I finally decided to "come out". I sort of envy Buffy and Joyce being able to share it because my mom hated it, ironically. But the link there between the reception of the movie and the reaction to Ted just popped out at me on rewatch; I'm assuming it's just a happy accident on Joss & David's part.

I don't understand how anyone could possibly watch "Ted" and not sympathize with Buffy. I mean, how UNACCEPTABLE for a woman to fight back against her abuser with everything she has.

SO MUCH WORD. When I read that attitude I just - I can't. Even. It is not ok with me to claim that Buffy doesn't have the right to defend herself and her mother against a man who attempts to murder her - twice. There's nothing ambiguous about his intentions or his actions, no "grey area" here. IT IS NOT OK WITH ME.

Reading so many comments in fandom to the contrary was really reopened some old wounds for me - it was like being right back in the situation of "you're crazy, your perceptions aren't valid; no one will listen or believe you" etc. Silence equals death.

You speak to my soul.

And you honor me, thank you. *Hugs back*
This was marvelous!

I really enjoyed that you talked not just about "Ted," but about "BtVS" as a whole.

I also want to thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you dear so much for your words! I know it was probably hard to read - 'twas hard to write - but it felt necessary to do so.

I really enjoyed that you talked not just about "Ted," but about "BtVS" as a whole.

I was not expecting that at all, but it was as fun as it was difficult to write about this. It's amazing how much of the entire series can be found in any one episode from the first seasons. I had forgotten a lot about this episode until I forced myself to rewatch it. (I actually have a few more meta planned on this episode alone - there's so much "there there".)

What a great post!

I'm sorry that you ever had to suffer in a violent household, and glad things got better.

I think I mentioned this in the late Season 5 polls, but I think fans don't always understand how important Buffy's mother is to her, because she's never been important to the fans in the same way. But their relationship always rang really true to me. Joyce is a lot cooler than my mom, and my parents never split up, but I still feel like I get their relationship. Mom is young and pretty enough to sometimes seem like she's competing with you on your territory. Mom loves you, but she doesn't understand you at all. She tries to lay down the law sometimes, because she thinks that's what good parents do, but it's always at the worst possible time in the worst possible way. Sometimes she screws up seriously. Sometimes she'll even admit to screwing up. But in the end, you love each other, and you're there for each other.

I actually like this episode quite a bit -- it's clumsy in places, but the central metaphor (Mom is dating a creepy, abusive, deceptive sociopath and I'm the only one who seems to see it) works for me.

The mini golf scene rings particularly true -- she gets bored, so she cheats to put a quicker end to things, the guy catches her and displays his Norman Bates side, and later Mom is laughing, "he caught you cheating, didn't he?" and right there you can so easily imagine the version of the story he told Mom. Everyone wants to think "the truth lies somewhere in the middle" -- liars know how to take advantage of this.

Ted is an early exploration of some of the themes that will come back later in the Warren/Buffybot storyline -- I don't know if the association between robots and misogyny is a deliberate reprise, or just where the creative team's minds tended to go. Joss is just a bit older than I am, and I like to imagine him growing up watching The Bionic Woman with its "fembots."
Hey there, sorry it's taken me so long to reply - I've been wow'd by the responses here, which is heartening. :) And thank you for your kind words.

but I think fans don't always understand how important Buffy's mother is to her, because she's never been important to the fans in the same way. Exactly. I hinted at that a little my meta last year on Buffy's promise to Joyce in Listening to Fear, but I've thought that idea through a bit further since then.

I've seen a lot of fans (Spuffy fans anyway) say that Something Blue was the last time Buffy was purely, blissfully happy on the show, which may be in terms of "absolute innocence" - although that's also true in TR, isn't it? But in terms of real, not bespelled happiness, I was looking at screencaps from IWMTLY (the episode before the Body) and Buffy looks really happy or at least content in several of them, in a way that I don't think we see from her ever again.

And even Spuffies will put absolute importance on S2 and Angelus almost to the exclusion of everything else Buffy suffers. Buffy runs from SD and suffers a three-month bout of depression before returning home, trying to date again, picking up her life in S3, and even manages a pretty damn good job of soldiering on when Angel comes back. Buffy at the end of S5 jumps to her DEATH - the wounds have piled up to the point where she feels, I think, as if that's all there is, she's "stripped down" to nothing but a walking, bleeding wound, even if that's not exactly accurate in fact (and the motivations for her jumping from the Tower are actually quite complicated.)

eleusis_walks and sampson had a great conversation about it here (back in 2010) that made my jaw drop because they said exactly what I've been thinking in this regard:
http://eleusis-walks.livejournal.com/45066.html?thread=1231114#t1231114

Joyce is a lot cooler than my mom, and my parents never split up, but I still feel like I get their relationship. Mom is young and pretty enough to sometimes seem like she's competing with you on your territory. Mom loves you, but she doesn't understand you at all

Were we separated at birth? *lol* I get exactly what you're saying here. I love my mother but I knew that I'd have to move away - yes, out of state - to be able to even begin to be my own person. (Given the outcome I'm not sure how well that experiment went.) My younger sister is still near my mom, and has kids and relies on my mom to help babysit - which mom LOVES - but that also means my sis has to put up with my mother trying to substitute herself as the kids mom and telling my sister how to parent because she sees herself as an "authority" on the subject. (Also, I think it's just her personality to try to maintain a measure of control, especially given that she has so little in other areas.) Whereas she doesn't meddle much in my own life and I'm not sure if that's because, with her three marriages she doesn't see herself as an authority in that area, or if it's because I'm a lesbian and thinks it's too different or something. (Although she's made very incisive comments and observations and she likes my partner very much, so I think my first guess is more likely. She sees herself as having "succeeded" as a mom but "failed" as a wife/partner. The irony is, her insights into marriage would probably be more useful than her opinions on child-rearing.)

So yes, so so very complicated.

Thank you for sharing.

Ted is not a favourite ep of mine by any means. I always want to shout at Joyce, "Don't you see what he's doing?" I think it's the one time in the entire show she really lets me down, even though her wanting what Ted appears to be offering is quite understandable.

Joyce is my avatar, you see. Probably because when I first saw the show, I had daughters approaching Buffy's age.

I know exactly how you feel because I found myself doing the same but of course it was complicated by my history as I mentioned in the meta. And yet I did want Buffy to calm down and give him a chance at first because he seemed nice and I had a lot of sympathy for Joyce, as I do for my own mom now. I don't even think of this episode as a favorite although I'm really fascinated by it now, by how layered it is, and how it really does speak to my experience (uncomfortably so).

Joyce is my avatar, you see

I think I've heard one or two other people say that, but not so much in this "corner" of fandom, but certainly there must be other folks who do. I really appreciate the mother/daughter dynamic so much more now, having watched the entire show and thought about it a bit; but then I really very badly wanted to see more of Joyce and that relationship from the very beginning of the show; I wanted her to know the truth and be part of Buffy's world, rather than held at arm's length or the butt of the joke. I do think this episode is a reminder of how well SMG and KS play off each other, but also of how underutilized Kristine was. She really DOES NOT get the kudos she deserves.
Thank you for posting this - both for sharing, and for the brilliant meta. I love the way you tie this into the bigger themes of the series - the explicit parallel between Ted using and using up women and the WC doing the same honestly never struck me, at least not this blatantly.

Violence from men is so common as to be unremarkable; violent acts committed by women are still considered shocking.

Oh yes. (I'm reminded of the extreme reaction last year when there was a one-woman performance of the SCUM Manifesto on stage here in Stockholm; the reaction it received from a lot of men who were apparently thoroughly freaked out by even hearing about it was... depressing to say the least.) I think there's an interesting commentary within "Ted" on the notion of women using violence; even the cops immediately assume that Buffy must have hit back ("Things get outta hand. He's a big guy.") Even when faced with evidence of women being able to fight, it's assumed that they are the objects of violence, capable of fighting back when you put them in a corner but never having agency over their stories. In a lot of ways, "Ted" is a classical horror movie with Buffy as "final girl" - Buffy viewed through the lens that Ted and the cops use. The violence isn't just physical.

their home (women’s space) reclaimed

I'm still not sure what to make of the fact that Buffy kills Ted with a frying pan. It's either awesome or cringeworthy.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing this. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Hugs if you want them.
their home (women’s space) reclaimed

I'm still not sure what to make of the fact that Buffy kills Ted with a frying pan. It's either awesome or cringeworthy.


You two are so damn smart. I'm going to be thinking about this conclusion for the rest of the day.
Thanks muchly for stopping by and commenting! I hope you've had time to rest and recharge a bit.

And yes, hugs and love are always welcome here.

Definitely an excellent post pointing out some incisive parallels.

This may seem a bit prosaic by comparison, but I also think the character Ted can be thought of as one more in a long list of "bad dad" figures we see in both BtVS and in A:ts

I love Joss for that, and I would really like to know where it comes from.
Thank you for stopping by and commenting! (Totally shallow observation - your icon looks very pretty against the pale grey of my page.).

I also think the character Ted can be thought of as one more in a long list of "bad dad" figures

Quite so, although I prefer Cynthia Bowers' term "problematic parenting" (referring specifically in her case to Giles and Joyce) because it covers both genders. Maggie & Riley being another case in point. Again, it gets back to the themes of power and responsibility, and the misuse of such.

I love Joss for that, and I would really like to know where it comes from.

samson just send me a reply addressing just that point, although I disagree somewhat with her conclusions, that is, it works better for me than it does for her, but I admit it can be a fine line, and part of what she's addressing is really about fandom response to Joyce.
http://eleusis-walks.livejournal.com/45066.html?thread=2038538#t2038538

Very interesting piece of analysis. I have to admit I'd never given much thought to Ted in this context before, but now that you point it out, it does seem rather blatant, particularly the Ted/Council stuff.
but now that you point it out, it does seem rather blatant, particularly the Ted/Council stuff.

As I mentioned to beer_good_foamy upthread, I'm really fascinated by that response because several people have stated it; and in the metas and articles I read, it's either hinted at/skirted around, or not mentioned at all. This was only the second time I rewatched the episode (the first time last year) to be honest, but the parallels just jumped right out at me. I actually underwrote that point a bit, and could probably develop it further.

But again, there really is so very much going on in this episode, much more than meets the eye; even I had dismissed after watching it because I was watching them all so fast and the Angelus arc sort of sweeps everything else away. But it's really not so easy to dismiss, I find, going back to it. You can approach it from a myriad of angles.
Childhood horrors. How they shape, ruin, direct, challenge our entire adult lives, leaving hauntings that lay supposedly dormant that jump out from time to time and yell boo, frighten then run away for a little while. Never gone, untalked so fester quietly, sometimes not so. Parents so badly needed, sometimes so badly wanted but not.

You made me cry, made me remember, made them say boo.
Childhood horrors. How they shape, ruin, direct, challenge our entire adult lives, leaving hauntings that lay supposedly dormant that jump out from time to time and yell boo, frighten then run away for a little while. Never gone, untalked so fester quietly, sometimes not so. Parents so badly needed, sometimes so badly wanted but not.

You made me cry, made me remember, made them say boo.


Oh hon, THIS, every word of this - you made me crying reading it. You just said in a few short sentences what took me paragraphs to express, made something beautiful out of terrible ugliness and pain. I hope I haven't made it hurt too too badly. (Can I offer a hug?)

This is tragic, but almost lyrical in the way you not only wrote it, but how you presented it. For a girl to seriously contemplate striking out at a dangerous stepfather is not something you hear of often, but you do hear of it.

******SPOILERS FOR LOST BELOW. SKIP TO THE BOTTOM ASTERISKS TO AVOID******

This is Kate Austen's story. I'm doing a Lost re-watch right now, and when I read your meta she was the first character who came to mind. We first meet Kate when she sews up a gash in Jack's side with a nervousness that will later seem foreign to her. By the end of the first three episodes, we know she is a fugitive, and that the U.S. Marshall who was bringing her back from the States had "Don't trust her! She's dangerous!" as his dying words. It isn't until episode 2.09 that we finally learn what Kate did, why she always runs, and why she's always so weary, manipulating situations out of caution rather than malice. She's the girl who finally did turn on a bad stepfather, and her mother is the one who turned her in after Kate killed him. These two wounds are carried by the character until the final episode. In flashbacks, flash forwards, and the flash-sideways that come in season 6, the wariness of someone who had to take it upon herself to be proactive when her mother wouldn't lays heavy on her.

*****

Check out Lost. I think you'll find some familiarity in the story of Kate Austen, who, like Cheryl Crane, took fatal action against a man who mistreated her mother.

I haven't seen Ted in a long time, but to me it was always the episode with the guy from Three's Company, not a cathartic recognition of the self as a child. I don't envy you your experiences, but I admire your willingness to share them.
This is tragic, but almost lyrical in the way you not only wrote it, but how you presented it.

Thank you, that means a great deal to me *hugs*

For a girl to seriously contemplate striking out at a dangerous stepfather is not something you hear of often, but you do hear of it.

Exactly, and that's part of the lie that keeps you trapped in the situation, that you're all alone, and no one else will understand, and that your experiences mark you as something shameful. We tend to remain silent about the things that we are ashamed of, individually and culturally.
Silence= death

I know nothing about Lost, have never watched it or even though about doing so, but I definitely will take a look at it now, thanks! In this instance I don't mind spoilers.

to me it was always the episode with the guy from Three's Company, not a cathartic recognition of the self as a child.

Oddly enough it was also that for me as well, the first time I watched it. I was watching the entire series so fast (I think I must have watched S2 within two days), and I don't think I wanted to think about it or dwell on it. that is, I recognized my childhood in it, but wanted to move on to the next thing. "I've worked through my issues, right?" But there's also the matter of sharing and speaking the truth. And that's part of what kills me about Buffy in this episode - she can tell the police, her mother, etc part of the truth but she can't be entirely truthful. And that's very damaging to both Buffy and Joyce, and their relationship IMO. And what she does tell isn't believed until after she "kills" Ted the first time. (Props to Xander there, at least; and to Joyce for telling the resurrected Ted "she never meant to hurt you.) That really hits home in a very real way for me.

But the specific inspiration for this came from fandom discussions, and especially Emmie's comments, which is I why I quoted her at the top.

You'd been on my mind lately btw just before I saw your comment, so I'm very pleased you stopped by. How are you doing? I voted "yes please" on your offer to transcribe parts of the Derek Johnson(?) chapter on btvs fandom wars, which sounds fascinating. I enjoy learning about the history of this fandom because it helps me understand the dynamics that still exist today.