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BBD: As You Were

Moggin

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So, this week on Buffy Boards Discussion, we have As You Were (season 6, ep.15). Let's think about that title for a moment and apply this to the entire episode.

"As you were" is a military expression, and its use in the title marks the return of our soldier boy, Riley, but the phrase also has other implications. As you were, taken literally, is a command to return to your previous state of being, whether that be a physical position or something else. Buffy has gone through a lot of transitions in season 6, and some would argue the character deviates too far from her original concept in this season. Whatever your position, we do see Buffy in a different way than we have previously seen her, and this episode marks yet another transition in her life and the season.

What does the expression "as you were" mean in this episode for Buffy, Riley, Spike, the other characters, and the show itself? Which character(s) do you think it refers to? What state of being might Buffy be asked to return to? Is this Riley, destiny, or Buffy herself telling her to be "as you were"? What do you think Buffy's feelings are to such a command, and can we see evidence of these feelings in the end of the episode?
 

DeadlyDuo

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Someone came up with a well thought out theory that Riley knew Spike wasn't the Doctor and everything that happened was because Riley had seen Spike and Buffy having sex on the front lawn at the beginning of the episode.

One oft he biggest questions of the episode is why Buffy, who was desperate to keep her sexual relationship with Spike a secret from the scoobies, decided it was a good idea to have sex on the front lawn when she could've easily been spotted by any of her neighbour or even Dawn looking out of the window.
 

AstridDante

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@DeadlyDuo I think by that stage, public sex was a common occurrence with them (balcony and dmp) plus I think he just wore her down until she gave in
 

DeadlyDuo

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@DeadlyDuo I think by that stage, public sex was a common occurrence with them (balcony and dmp) plus I think he just wore her down until she gave in
There's a difference though between public sex in a secluded area (balcony and dumpster by DMP) and doing it right on the front lawn in full view of the street and your little sister if she was to look out the window wondering where you were.
 

Professor Walsh

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What does the expression "as you were" mean in this episode for Buffy, Riley, Spike, the other characters, and the show itself? Which character(s) do you think it refers to? What state of being might Buffy be asked to return to? Is this Riley, destiny, or Buffy herself telling her to be "as you were"? What do you think Buffy's feelings are to such a command, and can we see evidence of these feelings in the end of the episode?
I simply think "As you were" points to this:
"RILEY: Wheel never stops turning, Buffy. You're up, you're down ... it doesn't change what you are. And you are a hell of a woman." (Source: The good, old Psyche scripts: 06x15 - As You Were - Buffy the Vampire Slayer Transcripts - Forever Dreaming)

In other words, that what Buffy should return to was her belief in her strength.
 
I
Incaprincess
I agree with this, that quote sums up the episode for me and what happens moving forward, Riley reminds Buffy of who she is, despite what has gone on in her life recently.

Stake fodder

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I think "as you were" is used here less as a command to Buffy and more that Riley reminds her of how she once was. Riley's support also gives her the strength to begin returning to "as she was," so it has that dual meaning, past and future. I think even Riley's perfect-seeming life, painful as it is for her to see, shows her that she can also re-make her life, as he did after their break-up.

Willow is trying to return to how she was, in control of her magic and with Tara, but I don't think that's a strong theme of the episode. As for Spike, I guess you could say that he was lonely before and will be again, but again, not a strong focus here. For Anya and Xander, you might say that it would have been better for them to return to "as they were," by just going back to being lovers, not married. But I think the title is meant to only apply to Buffy.

One oft he biggest questions of the episode is why Buffy, who was desperate to keep her sexual relationship with Spike a secret from the scoobies, decided it was a good idea to have sex on the front lawn when she could've easily been spotted by any of her neighbour or even Dawn looking out of the window.
Buffy may have ceased to care, as depressed people often do. But I think she wants to be caught; she can't stop herself (or so she thinks), so hopes someone else will see and stop her. Though they may not have been that visible, as they were under a tree.
 

Priceless

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What does the expression "as you were" mean in this episode for Buffy, Riley, Spike, the other characters, and the show itself? Which character(s) do you think it refers to? What state of being might Buffy be asked to return to? Is this Riley, destiny, or Buffy herself telling her to be "as you were"? What do you think Buffy's feelings are to such a command, and can we see evidence of these feelings in the end of the episode?
For me, As You Were means 'return to your previous posture'. It's about 'first you're up, then you're down', but then all you are is up again. There is no forward momentum, no continuous change, no actual growth. You go backwards. This is Riley. He has returned to what he knows, what is safe and he wishes Buffy would do the same.

I think the phrase is very much about Riley and his views, he has attempted change in his life, but really nothing is changed. We met him as a solider killing demons in the army and here he is, still a soldier killing demons in the army. I think it is with good intentions that he advises Buffy to be 'as you were', but really that's no good for anyone as that way leads to stagnation. He wants her to return to the Buffy he knew, the college girl with no real life issues. He's found that woman in Sam, who seems to love the killing as much as Riley.

Buffy is lost in Season 6. She too wants to get back to some semblance of herself, so being 'as you were' probably makes perfect sense to her at this moment in time. But we can never go back. What do they say? 'You can never go home again', it's impossible to return to the past or a previous state, no matter how much we wish it.
 
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TriBel

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What does the expression "as you were" mean in this episode for Buffy, Riley, Spike, the other characters, and the show itself?
[/QUOTE]
I agree with @Priceless 'You can never go home again' should really be the strap line for BtVS. It's a recurring motif up to and including S12 (and with retrospect from the beginning). The desire for home/the mother (the mother is the child's first "home") is absolutely central to the show and the comics. Spike's "Home, Sweet Home" is either an indication they had some idea of the direction the show would take or it's the most fortuitous phrase in the history of TV. You can't be "as you were" because, in effect, you weren't.
But I think she wants to be caught; she can't stop herself (or so she thinks), so hopes someone else will see and stop her.
Agree.
 

Ethan Reigns

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"As you were" is a military phrase used when an officer enters enlisted areas - the soldiers stand and salute and the officer, if he doesn't want the soldiers to do any specific thing says, "As you were" to allow them to go back to whatever they were doing. Riley is not an officer issuing orders but Buffy looks at it as being told to become what you once were.

Buffy was once an indiscriminate vampire slayer who killed all who had been sired. Now she was co-habiting with a vampire and he was not even her first vampire lover. And Riley had thought she had enticed Dracula. Buffy took this as having hit bottom, the kind of event that causes an alcoholic to join AA. So she tries to dismiss Spike but he does not believe it (and she is not all that convincing). After all, they had house-demolishing sex before and now he is supposed to believe she didn't want it anymore? This is the setup for Seeing Red where Spike intends to make Buffy realize her future is with him. Buffy has already talked to Tara at the end of "Dead Things" and Tara seemed shocked that Buffy was having sex with Spike.

After literally bringing the house down, in the morning, Buffy was trying to run off when Spike slipped a hand up her skirt and she kissed him for a moment then continued her frantic dash to get out. He has an occasion to say

"I may be dirt ... but you're the one who likes to roll in it, Slayer. You never had it so good as me. Never."

Spike had always had more emotional perspicacity than the rest of the scoobies combined.
 

thetopher

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Ironic that an episode title that sounds regressive finally gives our heroine some much-needed forward momentum. Whilst its not a great episode by any stretch it does to more than most this season.

What does the expression "as you were" mean in this episode for Buffy, Riley, Spike, the other characters, and the show itself?
It's basically a MotW episode; rampaging monster that has to be investigated, hunted and killed before some evil scheme is completed. The episode is very old-fashioned, feels a bit more like S2 than S6 in terms of plot.

Which character(s) do you think it refers to?
All of them; Anya, Dawn, Xander and Willow are all very passive in the episode, almost like observers only tangentially related to the plot, like they were in high school whilst Buffy was off doing 'slayer stuff'.

Riley 'returns' to his S4 self; with his military gear and gadgets and jargon. His appeal is as 'peak Riley' of S4, not his poor showing in S5.
Spike 'returns' to his S4 self a bit as well, he's certainly very unpleasant this episode and he's involved in murky dealings.

Except Buffy; Buffy is still 'stuck in a rut'; she is in this episode how she's been for a while, the same, and only changes/emerges into something better at the very end of the episode.

What state of being might Buffy be asked to return to?
Her best self, when Riley knew her. But I don't she's being asked per se, I think she's being challenged by circumstance; she's down, she's been wallowing for a while now without any forward movement, so what's she going to do when an old face appears.

It's like seeing somebody from your old high school when you're maybe not at your best; you're embarrassed even if they're in no way judging you or your circumstances.
Buffy in this episode is that feeling times a thousand. It's why Riley does have to do anything except exist and in doing so bring to light certain truths, Buffy does the rest all on her own.

Is this Riley, destiny, or Buffy herself telling her to be "as you were"?
Buffy is following Riley's lead a bit, but the impetus comes almost entirely from her. Riley is entirely non-judgmental about her current (shocking) state and is kinda hard to dislike, yet some still manage.

Sam though, Sam is pretty awful. The term 'Mary Su' (a term I hate) springs to mind. She belongs on a different show entirely.

What do you think Buffy's feelings are to such a command, and can we see evidence of these feelings in the end of the episode?
As You Were; sometimes we go down the wrong path in our lives and by remembering ourselves at our best we can reconsider and redirect any downward momentum.
Like Buffy says to Spike 'I'm using you and its killing me' and so she takes positive steps to improve herself, leave the darkness where it is and head out of that damn crypt to find her best self.
 

Taake

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What I think is ”as you were” = go back to your preordained/original position.

As in Buffy go back to being who you were, Spike go back to being the villain, etc...

Whether that is a good thing... debatable.
 

Cheese Slices

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What does the expression "as you were" mean in this episode for Buffy, Riley, Spike, the other characters, and the show itself?
It's the show declaring that the characters and the show have finally gone out of their funk and move to return to their initial state. People wanted the "old/real" Buffy, Spike, show back.
Except that it's an illusion. Much like the image of the Buffybot in white, looking so much like Buffy in the Gift, it's not real. Or rather, there's no "real" Buffy that she needs to go back to, because who she is in S6 is Buffy as much as Rocket laucher!Buffy is. It's part of who she is, but she deals with it in a unhealthy way.

Same for Spike. He seemingly goes back to his S4 antics (or badly written approximation thereof), but we can't go back to only seeing him as "wacky evil neighbor vamp", and neither can Buffy. Like with Buffy, we've gotten to know him better, and he's changed. So we've got Buffy at the end of the episode trying her best to treat him both as he is, but interestingly as he was by calling him William.
I genuinely have a hard time analyzing Riley in this episode, there's just too much cognitive dissonance going on 😂 I'll have to think on it more.

The other characters don't get much to do, but I thought there was an interesting tidbit that relates to the title, with Willow being hopeful that things might be as they were again, re. her relationship with Tara. In the same scene she also refers to how things once were by bringing up her former crush on Xander.
 

Moggin

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I think the phrase is very much about Riley and his views, he has attempted change in his life, but really nothing is changed. We met him as a solider killing demons in the army and here he is, still a soldier killing demons in the army. I think it is with good intentions that he advises Buffy to be 'as you were', but really that's no good for anyone as that way leads to stagnation. He wants her to return to the Buffy he knew, the college girl with no real life issues. He's found that woman in Sam, who seems to love the killing as much as Riley.
This is interesting. Most of us seem to agree that the episode refers to Buffy needing, wanting, or being asked to return to some version of her former self, but this perspective also contrasts her actions to those of Riley. While with Buffy, Riley's life spiraled out of control. Returning to what he knows, demon hunting in the military, has been beneficial for Riley, but that's Riley, not Buffy. Since it was with Buffy that Riley's life deviated from its usual path, might we say that Buffy herself is not given to set patterns? Even if Buffy laments not being like her former self, is she not also the orchestrator of her many changes? Was she ever the cause for Riley's changes, and does all of this underscore how very different they were as people?

Considering this perspective, I found the following two quotes interesting:
It's basically a MotW episode; rampaging monster that has to be investigated, hunted and killed before some evil scheme is completed. The episode is very old-fashioned, feels a bit more like S2 than S6 in terms of plot.
It's the show declaring that the characters and the show have finally gone out of their funk and move to return to their initial state. People wanted the "old/real" Buffy, Spike, show back.
Except that it's an illusion. Much like the image of the Buffybot in white, looking so much like Buffy in the Gift, it's not real. Or rather, there's no "real" Buffy that she needs to go back to, because who she is in S6 is Buffy as much as Rocket laucher!Buffy is.
I agree that this is one of the most old fashioned Buffy episodes this season, and it would seem one perspective is that this is in response to the audience's hope or wish to see this happen. However, the show does move forward, and in spite of its controversy, the characters this season are still the same, just simply part of this momentum. Is this one last send-off from the creators before things get really weird, a brief return to the old format? How might the old format be used to underscore the fact that Buffy is not stagnant character but has always been a person of change and evolution? Do you agree with this assessment of her?
 

Priceless

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Since it was with Buffy that Riley's life deviated from its usual path, might we say that Buffy herself is not given to set patterns?
I think Buffy's nature leans towards change, but those around her are continually forcing her to stay the same, to not change, to 'just be Buffy'. We see in Season 7 that not only is Buffy capable of massive change but she actively wants it and seeks it out.

As for Riley, I don't think he's capable of real change or growth, which is why Spike is (imo) the perfect partner for her, because he too embraces change and growth is such an all encompassing way.
 

thetopher

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Is this one last send-off from the creators before things get really weird, a brief return to the old format?
I don't think its the writers appealing to the audience, I think the episode is mostly about Buffy.
The pull of nostalgia is a powerful one, even for somebody as independently minded as Buffy. Riley represents a simpler time when Buffy was more sure of herself; Yes, her life was not great by any stretch, but she still knew who she was, she still was strong in her moral certitude. Can't really be any of that whilst you're sleeping with a monster who regularly reminisces about people they killed.

How might the old format be used to underscore the fact that Buffy is not stagnant character but has always been a person of change and evolution?
Change and evolution are not necessarily the same thing; change can be devolution, disintegration of self, entropy. And S6 for Buffy is all about that. She isn't evolving here (but then neither are her friends) and her changes have mostly been for the worse up to this point; bad choices and dark paths.

To evolve- she she's done previously- Buff has to break with bad changes and go back to being more sure of herself. And, as a paralell, that's exactly what Riley did previously; the military is NOT the Initiative; the Initiative was poisoning Riley and using him, killing him. By breaking with that in S4 Riley was 'evolving', but by going back to the army as a monster hunter in S6 he was, at the very least, reasserting his own identity, his own sense of self.

Buffy has to do the same.

Do you agree with this assessment of her?
Well, to an extent yes, Buffy's show is about Buffy 'growing up' but there's been precious little of that in S6; Buffy is just struggling with being an adult and using something 'static'- Spike (vampires by the very nature are creatures incapable of growth on their own)- to cling to, to have the illusion of control, but he's nothing more than a coping mechanism at this point.

We know she is capable of 'adulting', she was doing all of that in S5, but this episode crystallizes her feelings of being stuck and being unable to cope, no college in her future, no new opportunity, just the long-standing drudgery of a job she hates and sex with a guy she doesn't even like most times. There is no 'change coming' in her future from anything outward, Buffy has to find the inner strength to I dunno, be her own change like she has been in the past.
 

TriBel

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"As you were": as who was when? 😏

What I think is ”as you were” = go back to your preordained/original position.
But where's her "original position"...what's her starting point...when does she begin? In the womb? Her first breath? When she was dead (time 1 and time 2)? When she was reborn (time 1 and time 2)? Her first memory (and is it a real one)? Episode 1 of BtVS? When she first realised she was the slayer? When the First Slayer was created and Buffy-qua-the Slayer's lineage began? Or when Buffy's lineage began? The Master tells us we're going back to the "true beginning". Where is it?

The prologue to Beneath You is a homage to Thomas Tykwer’s Run Lola, Run. RLR has a prologue, which is a quote from Eliot's Four Quartets (4Q is inferable from Lessons):

"We shall not cease from exploration... and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started... and know the place for the first time." - T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

Four Quartets has a prologue - this:

Heraclitus: No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.

A similar remark is made in Dirty Girls.

FAITH Whoa. Memory Lane. Same old house.
BUFFY Yeah, well, every piece of furniture's been destroyed and replaced since you left, so, actually, new house.


Dawn thinks Faith is as she was; Faith thinks Spike is as he was. They're both wrong (or are they?).
In Same Time, Same Place they fear Willow might be as she was. She wasn't (or was she?)?
Tara tells Buffy she's as she was...but different.

In Lessons we have this:

WILLOW I wanna be Willow.
GILES You are. In the end, we all are who we are, no matter how much we may appear to have changed.


In Lessons, from one perspective Giles is a kindly but patronising father figure. From another he's an oppressive patriarch resistant to change. It couldn't be more obvious if they used a split screen. I can't decide which Giles utters the phrase. I can't decide whether it's for or against change because it circles around the verb "to be". It's circular in form.

This is a description of RLR's prologue:

Tick, tick, tick. The opening sequence of Tom Tykwer’s Run Lola Run is an experiment in choice, in allowing editing and style to speak: gritty, brisk, and bold. It plays out in four acts: horror, thriller, cartoon, and crime.

First, we encounter time itself. A grimacing pendulum that sweeps credits into and out of sight — relentless, staring — until, mercifully, we are swallowed up and transported into a crowd. Wandering, faceless, lost among our questions and lead by the narrator through the multitude, we encounter a security guard, who neatly parallels life, and the film, with a game of soccer. The ball is round. We’re booted above the throng and, at the vertex of our ascent, presented with a view of the film’s title, LOLA RENNT, composed entirely of extras. Next, we encounter Lola. She’s a cartoon, being gulped down by monsters, punching her way through credits, racing tirelessly against the clock, until she is caught in a whirlpool and flushed into the next act. The shutter goes off, and Lola is reified in a mugshot, identified along with her co-stars, the sounds of prison doors punctuating each name. With a long zoom, we exit into the film, heading straight for Lola’s ringing telephone — and a moment of truth.

Tykwer’s decision to explore multiple modes echoes the film’s exploration of possibility and potential — of manifold destiny. Lola’s repeated struggles against the tyranny of time {History] produce dramatic ripples, every stride a choice, and where this sequence really shines is in its willingness to examine those choices and embrace a multifarious vision.

This could be describing S7.

This is an extract from Four Quartets.

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion

Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.

I could lift any of these lines out and use them to describe S7 (except for the porpoise). The italics refer to Touched.

Sorry, I've digressed and cited S7 because I think As You Were starts a run which (temporarily) culminates in Touched. It's a run which addresses not just "the self" but also what it is to be a slayer and (of prime importance to me) what it is to be a woman.

I thought there was an interesting tidbit that relates to the title, with Willow being hopeful that things might be as they were again, re. her relationship with Tara. In the same scene she also refers to how things once were by bringing up her former crush on Xander.
So Willow's nostalgic? Nostalgia is a desire to return to an earlier time in life; A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past; A longing for home or familiar surroundings; homesickness. Buffy's also nostalgic - particularly if you read her depression as Melancholia - a failure in the grieving process - a mourning for a lost person (Joyce/home) and a lost self. Nostalgia used to be considered an actual illness. Now it's thought of as an uncritical return to the past that ignores real history.

Buffy's show is about Buffy 'growing up'
Growing up is a metaphor. The use of "Grown Up" as a noun only dates from the 1800s. In some shape or form, it's referred to over and over in S7. In Lessons Willow seems to revert to childhood. In the same episode Dawn points out she's "grown further" than Buffy. I like Faith's description: "Check it out. Brat's all woman-sized". I'm not sure BtVS sustains the idea of linear development. There's a new phrase I came across a couple of years ago: "Stockton coins the term “growing sideways” to describe ways of growing that defy the usual sense of growing “up” in a linear trajectory toward full stature, marriage, reproduction, and the relinquishing of childish ways. Growing sideways is a mode of irregular growth involving odd lingerings, wayward paths, and fertile delays". I find it useful.



Sigh...I now need to watch Run Lola Run and read TS Eliot.
 

thetopher

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Growing up is a metaphor.
Growing up as a term can mean many things but I was using it as a synonym for aging, changing and evolving towards an adult self.

In Lessons Willow seems to revert to childhood.
How so? We never see Willow as a child so in what context can be be sure this is 'baby Willow'? In the scene with Giles Willow is willing/bringing a flower into being, a blossoming if you will (another term for female growth specifically), that doesn't suggest childhood, it suggests motherhood. And doesn't that mirror Willow's end in S7?

In the same episode Dawn points out she's "grown further" than Buffy. I like Faith's description: "Check it out. Brat's all woman-sized".
Aren't you conflating physical growth with character growth? Buffy doesn't gain height from season to season and yet Dawn does, how is that significant? Does it matter?

Growing sideways is a mode of irregular growth involving odd lingerings, wayward paths, and fertile delays".
One could argue that S2, 4 and 6 are 'growing sideways' seasons of character exploration and odd lingerings whereas S1, 3, 5 and 7 are more about milestones for characters evolving into/towards something more.
 

Taake

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"As you were": as who was when? 😏


But where's her "original position"...what's her starting point...when does she begin? In the womb? Her first breath? When she was dead (time 1 and time 2)? When she was reborn (time 1 and time 2)? Her first memory (and is it a real one)? Episode 1 of BtVS? When she first realised she was the slayer? When the First Slayer was created and Buffy-qua-the Slayer's lineage began? Or when Buffy's lineage began? The Master tells us we're going back to the "true beginning". Where is it?
I don't necessarily disagree with anything you said really, I just feel like in the context of the writers' minds as they were deciding the title it was a lot simpler....

It's the show declaring that the characters and the show have finally gone out of their funk and move to return to their initial state. People wanted the "old/real" Buffy, Spike, show back.
Basically, "stop being sad-Buffy, people don't like sad-Buffy", so "As you were" is kind of go back to who you were before you died and came back and all this stuff happened. Impossible of course, as touched upon.

But, technically, suddenly having a sister magically implanted into your life is also impossible, so the idea of hitting the "re-start" button and wanting Buffy to continue to grow from a more mentally "healthy" or stable position, i.e. more of a pre-season 6 Buffy position, is not that far fetched for the show. I don't see it as the idea of thwarting exploration or growth, just trying to shift from where/what mental state the growth and exploration is happening.

"As who was when" = who Buffy was when she didn't have the trauma of death and resurrection change her*.


*not counting season 1 when she appears to have been dead for too short a time to really "miss" heaven or find the return particularly traumatic (beyond with how it was dealth with in When She Was Bad)
 

Spanky

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suddenly having a sister magically implanted into your life
That's one of the issues I've had with Dawn. She wasn't suddenly implanted in her life; she never knew a life without Dawn being there and being born. Dawn was suddenly implanted in the audience's life. If Buffy knew, or remembered, Dawn suddenly being implanted then she would remember her not being her sister and the whole dying to save my sister would seem to be nothing more than a cop out, not to mention the things that transpired after.
 
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