Buffy Casablanca Poster poppy wreath  RS

Taking Flight: Artwork by Comlodge ( = Very Pretty Presents For Me)

Vague Disclaimer: Images containing partial female nudity ahead. Plus, feathers. Possibly NSW or NSH (especially if your boss or "significant other" is standing over your shoulder. Your kids, on the other hand, already think you're a weirdo, so no harm done.) Also, opinions, ramblings, extravagant praise and extreme wordiness ahead. You have been warned.

comlodge (Janice O.)'s richly atmospheric banners for Round 16 of Seasonal Spuffy inspired my request for a banner for brutti_ma_buoni 's fic "The One With Wings", written for last year's Seasonal Spuffy. It's the Buffy&Spike(1) chapter of her Giles/Winged!Faith in Pylea series, "Learning to Fly", "Higher Than An Eagle",  and "Together Flying High" :  the gang are on a mission in Pylea, and each Slayer's powers physically manifests itself as wings. Faith is freaked and then elated, Giles is aroused, Buffy's wigged and Spike is curious. (If you're wondering, watching AtS might be helpful but isn't necessary; I never have.)

Brutti kindly gave her permission for the project, and the result was gorgeous : fantastical, sexy and a more than a little dark - befitting Buffy&Spike* and the story that inspired it, particularly the final line.  But I also think it stands very well on it's own; where Brutti's fic was humorous with a touch of darkness, comlodge's banner is more atmospheric, and could well be the inspiration for an entirely new fic, perhaps a long-form epic adventure. Her use of stylized wings for Buffy, rather than realistic ones, heightens the sense of Winged!Slayers as mythological creatures.

[Gorgeous pics ahead - you read the DISCLAIMER, right? Last chance....]


Janice and I (we're "the other Janice" to one another) I got to talking about her banner and the story that inspired it afterwards, and I confessed to having a Winged!Buffy kink. Hence, the commission. *gulp* I may be the only person in Buffyverse fandom who does, so far as I know, and it's entirely Brutti's fault. Before I read "The One With Wings" the idea of "Winged!Buffy" or winged anyone else had never occured to me. I have never been "into" angel imagery, or images of winged humans, "Winged!Spike" or "Winged!MaleCharacters From Fandoms I'm Not Familiar With" (and it's usually males who seem to get this treatment nowadays), angelic or otherwise. It just doesn't appeal to me. Neither does male nudity.(2)

I don't even think of Sarah-Michelle Gellar as "sexy" per se; rather that she's adorable in a  "Gosh, Mom, she's sooooo cute and cuddly! Can we keep her? Can we? Please?" sort of way. (Which could be perversely sexy...and I think I need to go scrub my brain before any "Puppy!Buffy" kinks take hold. Oops.)

But somewhere in the back of my head existed an image of Winged!Buffy sitting on a bed and curling her dove-like wings protectively around herself, whilst Spike regards her with a mixture of awe, amusement, arousal, and a fine appreciation for the irony. That image doesn't exist in the story itself; it's actually a combination of 1) Giles observing Winged!Faith in "Higher Than an Eagle" : "Wrapping herself in Slayerness. How very metaphorical of her."   2) An advert Sarah appeared in for Vaseline skin care products that I first saw thanks to a link from
angearia.(2)

And then Janice took me completely by surprise by coming up with this:

I've never had anyone make a Buffyverse artwork for me as a gift before, and this just stole my breath away. Literally. I just LOVE this so much. I went to work grinning like the world's happiest little clam for the entire day. It's lovelier than I could have ever imagined, the relatively "realistic" wings and floating feathers contrast nicely with the fantastic nature of the concept. She essentially "borrowed" my fantasy straight from my head and returned it to me vastly improved and more artistic.

And the "painterly" touches - virtual brushstrokes and textured canvas effects, the dots of color that remind me of an aging mural - make this all the more special and personal. Although she knows my partner is a painter & sculptor, I don't think I ever told her that I prefer "painterly" styles  to hyperrealistic ones; that one of my great pleasures is going to a gallery or museum, or my partner's studio (formerly known as the living room) and seeing the evidence of the artist's hand in the work, the textures of paint overlaying and interacting with canvas or panel. She can't possibly have known all that and yet, improbably enough, it's all here in this image.


She gave me permission to play with my present if I wished, and I did sharpen it a little in Photobucket. I wanted to sharpen Sarah's face only, as blurred faces can be hard on my eyes, but leave the rest as-is. I couldn't find a tool to do that with, or that didn't sharpen the face but completely blur out the rest of it, including the artist's signature. But Janice approved the result, which is all that mattered; it's pretty hard to degrade the image entirely. In fact, this is the only photo I've ever tried out with every "effect" in the current Photobucket editing suite, about 30 or so, and it looked great in every variation: color, composition, light, and shadow all remained in perfect balance.
WingsbyComlodge650x601


I also tried a thousand ways to Wednesday to make an icon of the entire image, again with Janice's approval, but the best result I came up with was with a cropped image of the face that, lightened, reminds me a little of Botticelli's Primavera ,  or The Birth of Venus , which was one of my favorite paintings when I was a little girl.(3)

wingedbuffyiconfromartworkbycomlodge2013

As far as I know  this is the first image Janice has done in this fandom that is just of Buffy, by herself, so I appreciate it that much more. Most of her work is Spike- or William-centric, by himself or with Anne, Dru, Dawn, or Buffy. OT, she's someone with whom I can discuss "hot" issues re: Spike or Buffy&Spike, as two relative newcomers to the fandom, while still feeling that I'm "safe", in an atmosphere of civility and friendship, as well as passion. We have a basic shared understanding on the larger (real-life) issues that serves as a foundation for differences of opinion in the fine details. That's all the more very valuable for being so hard to find.

Artwork-wise, Janice been challenging herself to branch out a bit lately, as her skill and artistry continuallly improves. Her recent Buffy/Riley ITW banner "Not the Long Haul Guy" is so gorgeous and melancholy that my heart softened a little for Riley and I almost forgot to be pissed off with him.(4)


This is the first Winged!Buffy image I've seen in this fandom, but even if there were a hundred others I don't think anyone could quite top this, or that would be closer to my (occasionally perverted little) heart. Not that I'd discourage anyone else from trying. In fact, I'd be more than happy to share my kink with like-minded fans. I still sort of suspect I might be alone with this one, but that's ok too.
***********

(1) "Buffy&Spike" = my personal moniker for the 'ship. 'cause I loathe smushnames except "Bangel" and that whole relationship was about romantic illusions anyway; and the standard slashmark seems insufficient to me. These two are so many things to one another that it's almost impossible to wrap my hands or my head around it all, although it's certainly fun to try: enemies, wary allies, friends, lovers, mutual abusers, equally-matched warriors; Heros, companions, partners, a Queen and her Champion; the rose in one another's hands and the thorn in each other's side; the anti-romance that's so "effulgent" that it destroys Hell, which cannot bear the presence of Love and Hope. Occasionally, all of these at once. That makes me cry, laugh, cringe, scowl, and leaves me a gooey, puddly, inarticulate mess. Quite frequently, all of these at once.


(2) Or asparagus, for that matter. Now put that in your humidor and smoke it, Dr. Freud.


(3) To whom I owe sincere and grateful belated birthday greetings because she's one of my Heros in this fandom and, whoa, am I behind on that project. And properly embarrassed.

(4) True story: When I was about eight years old my brother, who was a year younger, colored over the image of The Birth of Venus and some other nude images in my art history book with orange colored pencil because he thought they needed to be clothed. I was furious with him for months afterward - so furious I broke the "don't tattle" rule and ran straight to Mom, breathing as much righteous, livid fire as an eight-year-old can. The fact that I wasn't fussed about the nude figures, especially of the Venus, should have been a big, neon red flag that I would  grow up to become an art-loving lesbian whose life partner is an artist. Life is funny that way.

(5) "Almost" being the operative word here.

Indeed! This is the first time I've done a post one someone's fanart (although I mind end up doing others as a semi-regular "feature" aka when I feel like it); I couldn't keep this to myself.

Thanks for stopping by, sweetie! I need to start posting more, 'cause I've missed talking to y'all.
She's really a marvelous artist and I've been enjoying her work a great deal!


Gabrielle
*nods* I've seen you commenting over there! (I rec'd your Willow/Riley stories to someone on her site, btw, probably in the "Not the Long Haul" artwork post?)

Janice really is growing by leaps and bounds IMO, just in a very short time. I always find there's something thrilling & even pleasurable about watching that happen, whether in artwork, or in an author's writings. (Granted, in this case I'm a teensy bit prejudiced.)

Thanks for coming by!

Thank you for rec'ing me!

I agree! Every bit of practice shows remarkable growth. She's got a real talent for this!

You are more than welcome!


Gabrielle
Thankyou, my fellow Janice, for your kind words. No greater gift for an artist than to know her gift is so treasured. Enjoy your winged Buffy, you provided a great muse for the work. :D
I take my sacred duties as Muse very seriously, you know. :-)

thank you again for the gift. I haven't gotten so much pleasure out of a gift since - well, since I don't remember when, honestly. (oh I know - when a friend of mine gave me a copy of the movie Moulin Rouge about a week after I realized I wanted it, but before I had told anybody.)

And I meant what I said about how you somehow tapped into a lot of things I love - little pieces of me. That's really special. I had completely forgotten about how my brother defaced my art book and the Venus until I wrote this. The sort of little ironies I appreciate. (And of course it's funny now...)
little pieces of me

Love that. I think that has been one of the best things, for me, of our many discourses here. Finding little pieces of me. I've mostly put away my childhood, in some secret little lock-box amongst my memories. Thinking on things we have discussed has allowed that box to sneak open, a little, and let me remember things that brought me joy, that went into the making of me. It's good. :D
Glad to be of service, that's what I'm here for! I'm very happy that you're remembering the joy, because it can be too easy to let the sadness and fear dominate (they are such STRONG emotions and more than ready to eat you alive from the inside.)

These discussion with you have actually been really making me think about why I feel or think the way I do about certain things, and work harder to express myself. (Work in progress, that.) And they remind me, as does your present, of how much I enjoy the Buffyverse but also how much I love Buffy, in all her aspects, in all her complexity; and that I want to spend more time with her the deeper I dig, not less. I want to be someone who is unafraid to say why I love Buffy, or her relationships to other characters, and why she's important even if it's not fashionable. Because I'm opening my own lock-box. (Great metaphor, that.)

Also, you've been so prolific lately that I'm kind of embarrassed about how not-prolific I am, so I can use you as motivation to get going.
So what you are saying, what we are saying, is we are doing good things for each other. :D
is we are doing good things for each other

The first time through my brain misread that as "good things TO each other" *lol*

(5) "Almost" being the operative word here.

I might feel sorry for Riley if his misgivings weren't completely founded in his own insecurity.
I probably would have more sympathy if the writers didn't cram the "Buffy's a bitch and it's all her fault" nonsense down my throat. The idea that women are expected to be the emotional caretakers (in addition to being housekeepers, childcare workers, cooks, and keep their partners sexually satisfied) - to "do it all" in other words, is certainly very true in terms of what women are expected to do and often have to try to pull off. And when they disappoint and fail to reach impossible standards, they're supposed to feel guilty about it and often do. We've internalized the idea.

But the writers weren't going for a critique of that - they were taking Riley's side. And to top off that nasty little sundae, Buffy apologizes to him and not the other way around, while again the writers clearly communicate that he's super-duper. (they're not even trying for irony in AYW). If he came back with an apology? I'd probably forgive. I can forgive Buffy, Willow, Faith, Spike, for a whole host of sins, and even understand them on some level. This one? Sorry, but no.

Ah, I definitely agree. In the original comment, I was talking about Riley as a character from the in-universe standpoint where even then, I don't get how he reaches the conclusions he does other than him projecting his own inadequacies onto her. By Real Me, he's convinced she doesn't love him and there's nothing for him to base that on. Unlike, say, Spike who while I disagreed with his assessment, I can see why he might feel as he did so I can feel a little sorry for him. Riley? Not so much.

The writers? Absolutely. Ball dropped, epic fail reached.
Yeah I think I knew how you meant it but I tend to get a little irrational where the subject is concerned. In fact I've gotten worse not better over the last year (ask drizzlydaze or comlodge. Yikes.) And I dislike that in myself intensely.

The writers? Absolutely. Ball dropped, epic fail reached.

JUST THIS. for me the doylist & watsonian perspectives get all tangled up with Riley's arc. And I usually don't concern myself overmuch with what the writers WANT me to think. I think in this instance the cognitive dissonance was simply too great. And the fact that I had liked Riley in S4 more than general fandom seemed to made it worse?

By Real Me, he's convinced she doesn't love him and there's nothing for him to base that on.

Then again this is an adult male (or rather, a boy in an overgrown body) whose perceptions about Buffy are colored by Dawn's observations. Taking relationship advice from a (not-really) 14 year old girl? Srsly?

I still want to know what happened to the family he so lovingly described to Buffy in S4, the picture-perfect Normal Rockwell vision of Americana. As the daughter of a widowed and divorced mom, having very little contact with family on either side (and much of that was less than happy), I can absolutely see the appeal of that image to Buffy. But they are never mentioned again, he never thinks to call his parents up, etc. Is that whole image another one of his lies? That could have been part of the "subversion" - the normal, corn-fed, all-American guy turns out to be not-so-normal after all - but maybe that's part of the Riley!fail (does that term exist? It does now) on the writers' part, that they really didn't care to think it through that deeply?


whose perceptions about Buffy are colored by Dawn's observations.

Uh huh. A supposed psychology major to boot. And his suggestion to someone suffering depression? "Cheer up!" I don't know who the dumbass is there, Riley or the writers for apparently thinking it. It's the not the only Joss storyline that has that condescending sort of tone to it.

they really didn't care to think it through that deeply

I think that is largely it. I remember being a little baffled by Riley suddenly going to church in Who Are You. They had the idea of Good Old American Boy and little character beyond that. It's not so much that Buffy thought he wasn't the long-haul guy, but the writers knew he wasn't going to last, so they never filled him in very deeply. I knew he was done-for when they had him sleep with Faith and I'm really guessing they were setting up/testing Spuffy in Something Blue.
Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
And his suggestion to someone suffering depression? "Cheer up!" I don't know who the dumbass is there, Riley or the writers for apparently thinking it. It's the not the only Joss storyline that has that condescending sort of tone to it.

Every single person who suffers from depression that I've talked to, myself included, has gotten a version of that speech usually from people in our immediate family. It's always well-meant, but many times the other person also has their own issues or depression that they can't or won't examine, so the person who is trying to wrestle with it openly becomes the scapegoat for their own fears and issues that they can't or won't deal with. Riley's behavior is completely understandable but I DNK to be told by the writers that this is ok-dokey.

Riley's speech to Buffy in AYW is of a piece with his speeches to her in Doomed; he can be pretty damn condescending from the get-go. So it's not as though he's OOC in either AYW or ITW; it's a standard mechanism for him. (Which is also true of Xander, and perhaps part of why Xander identifies with Riley so strongly.) His military training has a lot to do with that, or reinforces whatever he may have been taught as a kid. I think at some point you'd have to convince yourself of that, if you're walking around with a gun by the government's leave, and possibly killing people or demons is part of your job; or else you'd fall apart.

It's extremely telling to me that he runs away from his own darkness after a brief sojourn and right back to the shining lie. Buffy's dream in Restless pegs him pretty accurately; he probably has a great career as a politician ahead of himself. Buffy's journey (as well as Spike's, Willow's, Faith's and to a lesser extent Xander's) is in the opposite direction. Her heroism (and the other characters I mentioned) is to learn that life is far more complex than the "lies their parents told them", to plunge into "the dark night of the soul" & emerge from it without denying it exists & incorporate it within oneself along with the light, without becoming locked exclusively into one or the other. It's a huge part of the Hero's Journey here. That's why I can have sympathy for what Riley undergoes esp at Maggie Walsh & the Initiative's hands, but I can't see him as "heroic" in any real sense, only in a fantasy, Reagan-esque way. Yes he puts his life on the line fighting demons, but the image is what matters most. Buffy learns to prioritize reality over the image, which culminates in her ILY to Spike. (Which I'd argue is also an expression of self-love; in accepting each other they also accept themselves fully.)

And Buffy taking responsibility for the break-up is not OOC either, as other people have reminded me (re: Hank, Angel and even Parker); taking on responsibility and guilt and seeing herself as "broken" has been part of her arc since S1. She has the fate of the entire world in her hands, so what's a little more interpersonal responsibility on top of that? In comparison it's a hill of beans. But it still grates for me as a viewer to watch her apologize to him because the writers believe she OWES it to him; (I've seen Jane Espenson quoted as confirming that.) IMO she owes him absolutely NOTHING at that point.

Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 2
I remember being a little baffled by Riley suddenly going to church in Who Are You.

Going a little OT, I was baffled by the existence of the church; the Master's underground lair and his speeches give the sense of a church and a perverted black mass. Otherwise the only other church we see in the entire series that I remember up to that point is The Prom in Angel's nightmare; then later in BY, but it's an abandoned wreck.

But in WAY it's interesting that the vamps were trying to show off that they were mastering their fear - but doing so because Adam had TOLD them to, not a genuine inner choice they had made for themselves. They are Adam's puppets, just as Maggie made Riley her puppet, the WC make the Slayers their puppets (only Buffy eventually cuts the strings); but also Spike and Faith are "puppets" to their own inner darkness. Faith has to make a choice for herself and by herself, that mouthing "it's wrong" and actually knowing right from wrong, are two separate things. Spike also has to make the same journey. Buffy can provide guidance or support but she can't do it for them. It's as I said above, taking responsibility for yourself, and Buffy et al do so in a way Riley never does. He leaves the Initiative mainly because of Buffy; so he never fully makes the break from the support and guidance of one institution or another, depending on someone else to do at least part of the thinking for him.

They had the idea of Good Old American Boy and little character beyond that.

100% agree. Joss admitted as much.

I knew he was done-for when they had him sleep with Faith and I'm really guessing they were setting up/testing Spuffy in Something Blue.

In-story it works beautifully - and I LOVE that WAY connects Spike and Faith explicitly (Buffy's relationship dynamics with them are almost the same, (if B/F had been a real possibility in canon back in the day, they might not have even needed Spike); my fanwank is that Buffy being inside Faith affects Buffy in the long term just as Faith being inside Buffy does. That ep foreshadows nearly the entirety of Buffy's S6 arc.)

But in terms of a trial run for Spuffy, I'm not so sure. I've heard the opposite, that Riley was meant to be the long-term guy but Joss found him boring and they were also reacting to the audiences dislike of/boredom with Riley; that Spuffy was never intended in S4 as anything but a joke or sideline but it blossomed in part because of the chemistry of the actors, just like AB stayed for 2-1/2 seasons instead of a handful of eps; but I guess it depends on which writer's or actor's viewpoint we're going by.

I've read parts of the shooting script for SB and SMG & JM do go further in their physicality than the script calls for (in the script Buffy walks the cake-topper across the coffee table, not up Spike's arm, which would have had a very different effect onscreen). Basically I think it was more a happy accident.
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1

And Buffy taking responsibility for the break-up is not OOC either

Oh, it's totally in-character. Buffy blames herself for damned near everything and it's one of the ways I used to try to wank AYW as it being merely POV. Buffy *would* do that. But I can't wank it anymore, not after Petrie and Espenson and Whedon's claims.

*spits on AYW*
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
May I join you in that spitting contest?

BTW we're talking about Riley some more in my most recent post (which was actually about me and someone else in fandom but the whole thing reminded me of Riley.
http://red-satin-doll.livejournal.com/17153.html
How the hell did I end up talking about Riley so damn much? I was gonna focus my LJ on the ladies! Screw you, Riley Finn.

it's one of the ways I used to try to wank AYW as it being merely POV. Buffy *would* do that. But I can't wank it anymore,

I have heard a couple of other people wank it that way but most people I know don't, and watching it, it never occured to me to wank it that way because it's played straight the entire time. Riley and Sam never stop being perfect Ken and Barbie Doll the entire time with anyone; everyone sees them the exact same way as Buffy does. There is NO indication onscreen that Buffy's POV is distorted. So either we're meant to see Riley and Sam the way all the SG do, or Willow, Xander, Anya and Spike all have the same opinion of them and/or they all suffer from the exact same type and degree of depression that Buffy does. I think not.

Now I think that could have been done that way and been very interesting; to see Riley and Sam from the outside from each character's POV, and looking a little differently to all of them, like shifting the lens of a camera and coming up with a different focus. Or indicating that how the other characters see them is how Riley and Sam want to be seen, their "public face", and the private one is a different story. As you said before, EPIC FAIL on M.E.'s part.

This may sound odd but the episode "The Woman in the Photograph" from S6 of Bones, which is nowhere near the quality of BtVS btw (understatement), is actually a good example of what could have been IMO. **SPOILERS** S6 of Bones is also largely about the main character's "depression arc", and one of the cases she is handling, a very important female heart doctor who was also very isolated and closed-off, reminds Brennan so much of herself, or rather she projects herself onto the victim to such a degree that she hears her own voice in the doctor's dictaphone tapes, sees her own image in the woman's photo. It's not until the end that she sees the image in the photograph accurately as another woman altogether. And it's played in such a way that we see it entirely through Brennan's distorted POV. It's the one episode past mid S3 of that series that I actually enjoyed, part because I think AYW could have achieved something like that.
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1

I have heard a couple of other people wank it that way but most people I know don't, and watching it, it never occured to me to wank it that way because it's played straight the entire time.

Oh, there isn't. It's more a "they can't possibly be saying what I think they are" sort of thing.

Even more bothersome about it is how it's all set up to make Buffy and Spike seem more criminal and paralleling Spike's demon-egg hording with Riley. The juxtapositions are pretty obvious and it reeks of a "vengeance" episode. Really the more I think about that ep, the madder I get.
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
It's more a "they can't possibly be saying what I think they are" sort of thing.

I sat there thinking the same thing, with extra outrage - "they are NOT going there..OMG they're going there." Fuck that noise.

The juxtapositions are pretty obvious and it reeks of a "vengeance" episode. Really the more I think about that ep, the madder I get.

I'd done a damn good job of forgetting the whole thing (I had the demon eggs thing wiped out of my mind) until recently. Ugh.

Let us think of happy thoughts, then...and I'll let you know in the morning when I come up with any. ;0 (Tired now.)
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1

(I had the demon eggs thing wiped out of my mind)

Unlike others, I don't think the demon eggs were OOC at all, but they were oh-so blatantly something thrown in so that Riley can expose Spike as Spike did Riley.

I mean, I can see why they used Riley and I like that they don't have Buffy magically get better after ending it with Spike (arguably, she gets worse). In some ways I can maybe see what they were trying to do as an overall point, but it was so shoddily done. What they wanted to do, I think, was to show Riley as better off without her and to her mind, cutting Spike loose was helping him. Always thought that was the idea behind Riley flying away, then she goes to Spike and ends it.
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
We should probably be discussing this at my Riley post to keep it consolidated - but you know me, I can't resist responding anyway...

(arguably, she gets worse).

True, and at the end of AYW I actually cheered a little when she walked into the sunshine - I didn't ship Buffy&Spike at the time - because I wanted her to "be better". But having lived with depression myself I know it's not that easy. I know better than that and yet I still let myself get mislead. Probably because that's exactly how it works on most tv shows and what I've come to expect. That's one of the things I love about btvs actually. But everytime I'm in an "up" period, I think I'm "getting better now" and forget I can go downhill, and vice versa. So I think I fell for that a little here plus expectations of usual tv shows: it's going to be all better now, and it turns out it isn't. (But then I love NA.)

And Riley is actually right, sort of, when he says "you're up, you're down" and yet he still manages somehow to get it completely wrong, just as when Buffy called him out on his "turn your smile upside down" platitudes in Doomed. "You're down" for a person with depression isn't just "having a bad day" or "the blues". You don't just "will" it away.

but it was so shoddily done.

YEP

What they wanted to do, I think, was to show Riley as better off without her

Never mind that in fact he really hasn't "dealt" with anything, and he still behaves like a patronizing asshole here so - better as far as he's concerned? Sure. A "better man"? Not where it counts.

And they had to totally humiliate Buffy and Spike in order to do that? f.ex. Buffy's openly flirting with him and he doesn't say a word about his wife, for instance, until - Surprise! Is that part of the "revenge", but on Buffy as well as of Spike? (I mean, WHY did he need the Slayer's help in this situation to start with? She doesn't capture demons, she kills them. They have millions of dollars in equiptment, operatives, etc etc.)

If so, that's beyond smug and patronizing, that's deliberately cruel to take delight in other people's distress. Now who does that remind me of? Oh, hello, Angelus! I always thought Angel and Riley actually had a lot in common but that idea never occurred to me before. And the writers thought Riley was an ok guy? That's just really disgusting. Then again they thought it was ok to humiliate Buffy just to get that point across, so maybe I'm spitting at the wrong "person".

and to her mind, cutting Spike loose was helping him.

??? do you mean, helping Spike? Or helping herself? Are we to see that the Finns are the model Buffy needs to be following - just cut your demons and "turn your frown upside down"? I'm really puzzled by what the writers think they're telling us here vs what they really are.

I love the apology scene because she takes responsibility for her actions, for the fact that she's part of a mutually destructive relationship, and she's trying to break it off with him in a much more gentle, respectful manner than Riley (or Angel, in the Prom) did to her; she's not out to be deliberately cruel or hurtful. I'm not sure the parallels between the three break-up scenes get discussed very often in fandom?
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
Never mind that in fact he really hasn't "dealt" with anything, and he still behaves like a patronizing asshole here so - better as far as he's concerned? Sure. A "better man"? Not where it counts.

Oh, he's still a smug ass, but from the POV of the piece, he does appear to have gotten is life together which I think was the point. The problem with it is it's hard to tell what the writer's were aware of and what they're weren't. It seems in hindsight, they weren't aware of any of it, which is where the interpretation falls down.

??? do you mean, helping Spike? Or helping herself?

I'm aware it's minority, but I do think she ends it more for Spike than herself. I remember when this clicked with me; it was during JE's Succubus Club interview when she says she can't be with Spike not necessarily because he had no soul, but because he was a vampire. So I think the point was Spike was not the long-haul guy for her any more than Riley was (and after Riley left, he was doing a lot better). You can see it referenced more as the season progressed. "I could never trust you enough for it to become that" is a callout to Xander's speech in ITW. If you can't give it all, just let it go.

And it continues in Chosen, when Buffy more or less dumps her fatalism that ties to it. Maybe it won't work out with Spike, but whether or not he's the forever guy wasn't the point.
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
The problem with it is it's hard to tell what the writer's were aware of and what they're weren't. It seems in hindsight, they weren't aware of any of it, which is where the interpretation falls down.

NAIL, HEAD.

it was during JE's Succubus Club interview when she says she can't be with Spike not necessarily because he had no soul, but because he was a vampire.

JE = Jane Espenson? I never got that from the show because it emphasizes it so much? maybe "the soul" is as much of a mislead as "magic is Willow's problem"? And Buffy's been in love with another vampire before, so that alone really doesn't make sense to me I'm afraid. I'll have to think about that.

I do think it's brilliant that getting a soul isn't any more of an immediate fix-it or magic problem solver than Willow's spells, Buffy breaking up with Spike, Xander leaving Anya at the alter. That's pretty much the point of the show isn't it, that problems have to be worked through. Which is why the Riley thing falls flat IMO. I hope that soul/no soul, vampire or not, wouldn't override the fact that it's an unhealthy relationship at this time, period. Warren and Katrina, Willow and Tara reinforce that. Anyone can do bad things, humans can behave demonically, essentially good, well-meaning people (or demons) can hurt their loved ones. (I'll be the first to say btw I tend to avoid discussion about the soul because I never thought about it that much and it gets so heated in fandom. I don't have a dog in that fight.)

but I do think she ends it more for Spike than herself.

I'll have to think about that. Because then she's once again putting other people's needs first. Which is IC, but I'm not feeling that 100% in this instance. To me she's doing the right thing because she's in a relationship that's hurting both of them, and she has to be the adult, she knows it. I'm not sure that I buy that it's "more" for him, that she's thought it through quite that far, and it's even more unsettling if there wasn't even the tiniest measure of self-preservation involved (from the writers' POV). If anything, the two of them have become so intertwined at that point, "an identity hiijack" as the_royal_anna described it, that they've lost their sense of separate selves and what helps or harms one helps or harms the other in nearly equal measure.

"I could never trust you enough for it to become that" is a callout to Xander's speech in ITW.

'splainy? (I don't want to rewatch that scene.) OT, I'm actually fascinated by the fact that her tone and attitude change subtly over the season, or really from S5 to the end of S6. Her "you can't love me, vampires can't love" (Buffy, Queen of Denial) to "I believe it is real - for you", to "I have feelings for you, I do." She gradually puts the inability to fully give to this relationship back onto herself, and that gets missed, I think? From "you can't love me" to "I can't love you".
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
If you can't give it all, just let it go.

Yes and no, I think. I'm reminded of pianist Gyorgy Sebok's statement "To show love for someone, but not feel that love - that is the work of Mephistopheles" (quoted by Jeremy Dink in The New Yorker). Hello, Buffybot: Spike wants Buffy's love, he wants the real thing, but will take anything he can get. OTOH, there's something about that notion that seems unrealistic, and that reminds me very much of Riley. His demand "I want it all, you're holding back from me" and Buffy's angry and puzzled declaration that she has given him everything she has; instead of focusing on all the good in that relationship, Riley blows up the flaws and focuses entirely on them.

And it's actually pretty normal human behavior : confusing the feeling of total passion, totally fused with one another, the high of romantic feeling and being "in love" with actual love, which shifts, evolves, and is very hard work. There is no "all", and from my viewpoint, when we do try to give "all" and hold nothing back for ourselves, then we're left with nothing when the bottom drops out and the relationship ends. (As an example, It's a bit like my mother's marriages: she gave them her heart, her body, and her money, her home, her car - they got it all, both times.) And many times "giving all" to another person is done for the wrong reasons. So there is a RL issue here that I'm reacting to as well, and I do realize that. Women have been expected to give all in ways men traditionally haven't- and I know I'm generalizing, so forgive me. But even today, women are supposed to be the primary caretakers and housekeepers even when both parents work outside the home.

part of what irks me about this - about Riley, and my own fandom "Riley" - is that this is what women are expected to do - GIVE IT ALL to their partners, their children, etc. When Buffy jumps off the tower in The Gift, she's actually behaving in a very traditional way in Western culture: woman sacrifices herself for the sake of her family. Woman aren't allowed to be "selfish", ie take care of themselves as well as others. The WC, giles, the SG expect Buffy to save the world; Dawn expects Buffy to take care of her; Angel expects Buffy to be his savior, etc. And Riley wants Buffy to give herself to him totally without offering the same, or an equal exchange. He even wants her - expects her to - lean on him, let him take care of her, when he can't even take care of himself. It's really not all that different from Angel, IMO, at least early on. That's a huge problem. And it's on us (women) that we continue to allow and accept that expectation. Buffy at first calls Riley on his shit - and THEN she takes on all his shit for him. Again. 'cause that's what girls do. *grrrrr*

But as you say, the lack of awareness on the writers' part is why this is so crazy-making.

FYI - I do enjoy these conversations tremendously! ;)
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1

And Buffy's been in love with another vampire before, so that alone really doesn't make sense to me I'm afraid. I'll have to think about that.

It's not about love or feelings. It's about the viability of the relationship longterm and at the end of the day an inability to go out in sunlight, procreate and whatnot is going to create an issue eventually (another thing mentioned in Chosen). Buffy admits to feelings for him in S6 and then there's the "still in love with" line in S7. What's the point of falling in love/persuing things if it's all going to end? Buffy is horribly fatalistic about relationships and honestly, as the writers hinted over and over *they* don't think the relationship had a future. Marti used to make jokes about it. The soul was a part of it, but not as big as people seem to make it out to be, I don't think. Buffy says in S7 he tried before the soul and acknowledges the soul didn't fix Spike (as she was going to kill him in Sleeper before it came out he was mind-controlled). While the soul was seen as a mark of devotion, I never got the impression the show or the characters thought it fixed anything relationship-wise.

and it's even more unsettling if there wasn't even the tiniest measure of self-preservation involved

Oh, there's definitely some. She's getting out of a situation that wasn't helping her, making her feel guilty and she was using as a crutch. I wasn't trying to say it was completely for Spike but I do think seeing how Riley was better off without her was a major motivating factor. Otherwise, why set up all the direct parallels to ITW if not to invoke the same pathos?

'splainy?

If you can't give your love to someone, let it end, that was part of the message in the ITW speech. If Riley wasn't the long-haul guy, she should cut him loose. Spike? Not the long-haul guy, either. Does she trust Spike? Yes; she wouldn't take Dawn to him otherwise. Does she trust him enough to give her reason to think it'll work? No. And realistically, she shouldn't.

Buffy, Queen of Denial

Eehhh, soulless love isn't the same as the other in-canon, so I guess it depends. In-canon, Spike says whatever he felt before wasn't as much as he felt after (whatever I felt...feel...it only cuts deeper now) and as Joss claimed, his love before the soul was selfish and destructive...so I guess it depends on your definition. Kind of like the gods discussion in BGF's LJ. And as Buffy/Joss (it's obvious who's talking in that ep, IMO) says in CWDP, it's his own sick, soulless way. Of course she's projecting her own self-worth issues there as well. I think it's far more complicated than simple denial.
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
It's about the viability of the relationship longterm and at the end of the day an inability to go out in sunlight, procreate and whatnot is going to create an issue eventually (another thing mentioned in Chosen).

And that was explicitly part of Angel's (and Joyce's) thoughts on the subject and his nightmare in the prom, so it makes sense. I'm not sure that "procreating" is a big deal per se (contrary to popular belief, not every women wants to have babies; and Buffy already has a lot of "daughters" at the end of Chosen, never mind being Dawn's guardian) but you're correct on the rest. there's also the issue of Buffy's probably shortened lifespan, Slayer spell or no. It's hard to imagine her spending the rest of her life behind a desk. (I'm actually writing a fic now with that theme but it's meant to be tongue-in-cheek.)

OTOH - Buffy's "normal" is different from everyone else's normal or RL normal (which is part of why "S9" is fails, IMO). There's the "idea" that we should all settle down into "longterm relationships" but that's not for everyone - unmarried adults (esp women) are still "pitied" in our culture and men are thought to have not grown up (unless they're George Clooney); and hello, divorce rate. So I get what you're saying - that is what she says in Chosen, but "no grandchildren" in the offing" isn't ruling out the notion of a post-series relationship, however long that may last. (ok, my shippy side is coming out here, I'll admit it.) But she also thinks about a relationship with Angel "sometimes" - which conversely doesn't mean she'd want to make it reality; it's safely in a fantasy pocket.

What's the point of falling in love/persuing things if it's all going to end?

They all do, alas. That's the point of Bangel - "forever" is such bullshit, even in the best relationships (death, etc. And "love" changes and evolves; if someone's feelings don't evolve over time, that's almost the definition of insanity.) At the end of "Eyes Wide Shut" Tom Harford insists "Forever" and Alice replies "Let's fuck" i.e. , "This moment is what matters." He still hasn't learned his lesson from his dream journey in the film, still trying to hold onto, to label and control his wife, his marriage, and hold chaos at bay. He hasn't grown up, Alice knows better. there's something of Bangel but also Buffy/Riley in that - Riley (and Willow) need to control, to keep things neat and understandable; when chaos enters his life, he can't deal; Buffy's has to deal with and engage the chaos. She's the hero, the protagonist, so that's her job; and her parents divorced when she was young and had been unhappy long before that, so chaos was introduced early (although not as intensely as in the Harris household.)
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
Marti used to make jokes about it.

Such as? And I've heard people claim she was a B/S shipper, when they're not dumping a thousand gallons of vitriol on her head.

While the soul was seen as a mark of devotion, I never got the impression the show or the characters thought it fixed anything relationship-wise.

& that's the point; he goes to Africa in one of his dramatic gestures thinking that will do the trick. (He and Buffy both live under the shadow of the damage Angel's wrought.) not only doesn't it solve anything on it's own but makes things more difficult in ways he wasn't prepared for. & his comment in Sleeper "the soul, the changes...I swear it's all about you, Buffy." exactly echoes Riley in ITW, "It's all about you." They both "put it on her"; the difference is that Riley runs away and leaves her to clean up the mess; and then pops back in her life "all fixed" like one of those "people in recovery" or evangelists of (pretty much anything) who tell you how they are all better now and your life could be better too if you just followed the same path or religion/ate the same diet etc. Spike actually comes back and they work to make thing right with one another. Faith's reappearance functions similarly. Rebuild trust first; then, relationship? Maybe.

She's getting out of a situation that wasn't helping her, making her feel guilty and she was using as a crutch. I wasn't trying to say it was completely for Spike but I do think seeing how Riley was better off without her was a major motivating factor.

I can understand this a bit better than I could yesterday. I was seeing it ironically through the lens of: she's doing it so her life is "fixed" like Riley's, not "I fucked up Riley's life because I didn't really truly love him (and why the apology to him in AYW if she doesn't still believe that?) and I need to likewise stop fucking up Spike's life because I can't love him." Again, in character; but if the writers believe that about her and Riley? Yuck.

If you can't give your love to someone, let it end, that was part of the message in the ITW speech. If Riley wasn't the long-haul guy, she should cut him loose.

*RANT* I get why Xander and Riley may think that; personally, growing up with two ex-stepfathers, I convinced myself that longevity was a mark of a healthy relationship and something to be sought after for it's own sake. the ends became more important than the means. It took me a long time to realize that longevity in and of itself is not a virture. Nobody gives you a gold star if your relationship lasts 20 years instead of 7. And I got the feeling that his beef was that he didn't feel her love, that she didn't love him the way he wanted to be loved (which again, is fair, but that's on him not her). I see nothing in the show to indicate that she doesn't love him; fiery, consuming passion isn't "love".That's part of the point of both Bangel and esp Buffy/Spike, very explicitly; but somehow Riley is in the right? And not giving 110% of your time and attention when other duties call, doesn't mean that the love is no longer there or any less deeply felt. Riley really does need to grow the fuck up.*/END RANT*

Does she trust him enough to give her reason to think it'll work? No. And realistically, she shouldn't.

Absolutely, at least on the show. Afterwards? my canon stops with Chosen; and as she says, "You don't know yourself". I have no problem with the idea of her being with someone else afterwards. That was part of the point of his sacrifice. "This is the work I have to do" (the Gift)/"You have to go on living so one of us is living".

his love before the soul was selfish and destructive

100% agreement on that. I've never been comfortable with the view that "his love was "enough when he was soulless, if ONLY Buffy would see that, the bitch". the chip was a muzzle, it allowed him to ape good behavior, to feel and experience it to an extent, but never fully.

it's his own sick, soulless way. Of course she's projecting her own self-worth issues there as well. I think it's far more complicated than simple denial.

Absolutely, I realize I was simplifying a very complex situation. (For once!)
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1

(contrary to popular belief, not every women wants to have babies; and Buffy already has a lot of "daughters" at the end of Chosen, never mind being Dawn's guardian)

Is it a big deal at the moment? No, of course not. However Buffy herself mentions not foreseeing fat grandchildren with Spike. That's not to say she wants that, but what if she wants that later? You could say she's caving into the society-induced "normalcy" that both Angel and Joyce instilled in her, but really, that isn't the point. The point is that by Chosen, she's come to realize it doesn't matter, though it was still nagging at her in S6. There are instances in S7 of it as well with Giles.

But she also thinks about a relationship with Angel "sometimes" - which conversely doesn't mean she'd want to make it reality; it's safely in a fantasy pocket.

Well, yeah, I think that by Chosen she's come to the place where she realizes not everything is her fault and she's flawed for not making it work. I absolutely do think she intended to pursue some kind of relationship with Spike should he have lived (I see no other way to interpret "Maybe, when..."**) It's also another reason why I never thought the Immortal relationship was OOC at all.

They all do, alas.

I know. :P And realizing that and enjoying it while it lasts was, I think, a key to Buffy's arc in 6-7.
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
Absolute agreement with everything here. (Hey I can be brief, sometimes!)

Is it a big deal at the moment?

Do you mean the show or real life? I realize I was mixing the two up in my responses which is probably confusing the issue, although I always see the show through both lenses at once. If you mean RL then yes, far more so than one might think in this day and age. But it still depends very much on socio-economic class in the US at least.

If you mean the show itself then, you're right, not the point at the moment, as you say with "Chosen". I assume with Giles you mean First Date, when he's playing the disapproving "father" "You rely on him, he relies on you...I wanted so much better for you" etc?

I think that by Chosen she's come to the place where she realizes not everything is her fault and she's flawed for not making it work.

CWDP is the first time she explicitly puts the primary blame on her father for the failure of her parents marriage rather than herself (Nightmares). I can find all sorts of subtextual links from Hank to Ted to Riley (which gets quite interesting btw), and "not blaming herself", or rather, taking appropriate responsibility is part of the theme of S7, which is one of the things I like about that season. she's working toward that when Giles comes with the Potentials and dumps the entire thing in her lap and she goes back to form.

And maybe that's part of the subtext of her calling Riley in TKIM - old rivalries (Riley and Spike) and wounds are in the past, what's happening "very much in the now" (as giles said in S1) is what's important? I think it's significant also that this season is the first time she calls the WC headquarters of her own accord, rather than them coming to her.

I absolutely do think she intended to pursue some kind of relationship with Spike should he have lived (I see no other way to interpret "Maybe, when..."**)

Right? How to else TO interpret that?

I think there's actually an interesting callback to Joyce and Buffy's conversation in that same area in the kitchen in "Ted" : "I don't want to talk about it." If she hadn't said that, would Buffy have told the entire truth, confessed to being a Slayer? It's possible. Avoidance was one of Joyce's trademark coping mechanisms - Buffy finds out at the last minute that Joyce is going to the hospital when finds her mom packing her suitcase "Oh dear, I was hoping this could wait until later"... (Where does everyone think Buffy got that from? Hank avoids physically by leaving; Joyce avoids verbally by "not talking about it" but also by being blind to the evidence around her, the blood stains in the laundry.) That avoidance of the issues at hand is part of what makes it possible for Buffy to keep the secret for so long.

And Spike is one of the characters, or the only male character IMO, who has a connection to Joyce, to the mother principle, of any sort, and therefore to Buffy; so there's a nice symmetry here. He used to be the one who pushed Buffy, the direct one; now he's the one who cuts Buffy off.

It's also another reason why I never thought the Immortal relationship was OOC at all.

Right. Is she supposed to wear sackcloth and ashes? Retire to a nunnery? That wasn't what he would have wanted for her (in Chosen, I can't speak to AtS directly). I admit I have a "kink" for really good post-series fics, but not the ones where she is weeping and wailing and falling apart emotionally after Chosen. That's what happened in S5-6; Chosen is the reversal of the Gift. *SMH*

And the fact that in the comics it was supposedly a "decoy" in TGiQ, and not Buffy herself enjoying a new life in Rome is just one more reason I loathe the comics (among many).

And realizing that and enjoying it while it lasts was, I think, a key to Buffy's arc in 6-7.

YES. (But then I always assumed they made love after the FtB in Chosen. Remember the W/T FtB in NMR?)

Edited at 2013-06-13 08:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
That should say NOT flawed for not making it work. Stupid typos. I think you got what I meant anyway, though.

Right? How to else TO interpret that?

Oh, you'd be surprised. I've seen it wanked that she knew Spike was going to die (how?) and was only saying it knowing she'd never have to deal with it, same as ILY.

Right. Is she supposed to wear sackcloth and ashes? Retire to a nunnery? That wasn't what he would have wanted for her (in Chosen, I can't speak to AtS directly). I admit I have a "kink" for really good post-series fics, but not the ones where she is weeping and wailing and falling apart emotionally after Chosen. That's what happened in S5-6; Chosen is the reversal of the Gift. *SMH*

I know. To me, it just makes it more juicy. In my head, I have this argument scene where Spike is back in Buffy's life and is unsure, insecure and confused himself about it. So he makes little digs, as is his way, and they have a (needed, IMO, after AtS5) blowout about it.

And the fact that in the comics it was supposedly a "decoy" in TGiQ, and not Buffy herself enjoying a new life in Rome is just one more reason I loathe the comics (among many).

FTN. Buffy's in Rome, Xander's in Africa and so on. Buffy would never hide out and let others put themselves in more danger by posing as her. She fought the Ubervamp Thunderdome-style to win the girls' respect; she's gonna hide? No.

I used to think they slept together, now I don't know if they would have.
Re: Long reply is pretty damn long, pt 1
I think you got what I meant anyway, though.

Absolutely.

I've seen it wanked that she knew Spike was going to die (how?) and was only saying it knowing she'd never have to deal with it, same as ILY.

Oooh, let's really get started on one of my WTF??? pet peeves. (or, lets not and say we did.)

Something I've never seen stated (have I bored you with this theory already?) - the period in which William was born and raised, the Arts & Crafts movement was in full flower, as well as the Aesthetic movement and of course the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The reaction to the rise of industrialism was a nostalgic look backward at a fantasy of the Middle Ages, "the Romance of the Rose", "Childe Roland", the Gothic Revival, fantasies of Chivalry and bold knights who received gifts from the women they loved (but could never be with in reality) and risked their lives to prove their worthiness of the "beloved" Lady. I think these sorts of things would have appealed deeply to William, the would-be romantic poet, and still exists in Spike. (He's very much the chivalrous lover - as much as a vampire can be - to Dru in S2; and he's playing the "black knight" to save his ladylove - Buffy - in the alley in DT.) So when Buffy calls him a Champion, and gives him the amulet? That's a big deal, and I think he'd recognize it as such, not just on the "in the now" level with Buffy.

And when had Buffy ever asked anyone else to take on the work that she feels is her responsibility? She fucking died twice to save the world. She sacrificed herself in Dawn's stead, she refused to let Giles go in her place in PG. "This is the work I have to do...tell Giles, I figured it out." (The Gift) / "I have to do this" (Chosen). She knows exactly what he's doing, understands his choice in a way no one else could, and completely honors that. One champion to another.

If anything, learning how to delegate, to share power and not take on the entire weight of the world is explicitly her arc. *spits at S8* (See what you started? Virtual spitting is fun and - bonus - doesn't mess up the 'puter screen.)
Oops, hit the reply button too soon...
In my head, I have this argument scene where Spike is back in Buffy's life and is unsure, insecure and confused himself about it. So he makes little digs, as is his way, and they have a (needed, IMO, after AtS5) blowout about it.

"Self-Indulgent Post-NFA Spuffy Ramble' by Stultiloquentia http://archiveofourown.org/works/2624
And chapter 3 of Rebcake's "Whose Torment is this, Anyway?" has some of my favorite "Buffy" dialogue, ever. http://archiveofourown.org/works/527615/chapters/937161

Buffy would never hide out and let others put themselves in more danger by posing as her. She fought the Ubervamp Thunderdome-style to win the girls' respect; she's gonna hide? No.

THIS. Anyone who thinks that of Buffy really doesn't understand her character IMO. Then again this is coming from the people who have no problem turning Buffy into a bank robber? BUFFY SUMMERS? WTF? (And fans are one thing but this is coming from JOSS)