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Buffy season 6 appreciation

Discussion in 'Sunnydale Cemetery' started by Wesley Pryce, Mar 31, 2017.

  1. DeadlyDuo

    DeadlyDuo Scooby

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    I've had a thought (I'll start a separate thread at some point about Soulless vampires and their emotional capabilities) but is it possible that Season 6 is all about empathy?

    Spike can feel emotions soulless yet his grasp of empathy is complicated at best. He can show compassion (He recognises when someone is upset and they need cheering up) but he can't empathise (identify with why they're upset). On the rare occasions he has shown empathy (not telling Glory about Dawn because it would destroy Buffy, especially following Joyce's death), he's been rewarded eg a kiss from Buffy. Empathy is a thing that has to be taught (usually this is during childhood) but being around the scoobies is helping Spike learn empathy.

    In Season 6, Buffy is brought back from the dead and she is distant from the scoobies, the only one who can remotely empathise with her is Spike. The scoobies CAN'T empathise because they've never been through what she has hence why she's spending all her time with Spike. In the early part of season 6, Spike is doing some good empathising, so much so that Buffy can confide in him. However during Season 6, Spike's grasp of empathy goes off kilter and his empathy with Buffy starts being on his terms eg he's telling her she belongs in the dark with him. A lot of time Spike and Buffy are together, they're having sex. It's quite possible that Spike has learnt empathy= sex therefore when he goes to Buffy's house in seeing red to apologise, he is trying to empathise with Buffy again. To him, sex=empathy. It's not until after the AR that Spike understands that he messed up, that his grasp of empathy is shaky at best and that sex does not mean empathy. He loves Buffy and thought Buffy loved him because of EMPATHY but Buffy couldn't love him because he didn't have a solid grasp on it. Hence why he goes to get his soul, because he knows without it, empathy is not an emotion he can consistently have which what a normal human relationship contains eg "can't be a monster, can't be a man". The theme of empathy spills over into season 7 where, not only does Spike have a soul and gets hit by a shit ton of empathy for every wrong doing he's ever done, but Buffy shows a great display of empathy by helping him and forgiving him despite what he nearly did to her.

    Spike and Dru's love was still the genuine thing because they both lacked a grasp of empathy so they were on equal terms whereas Spuffy were on unequal terms because Buffy had empathy whereas Spike didn't hence why in the comics Spike referred to his soulless love for Buffy as a "selfish bastardisation of love" (or something to that effect, I don't read the comics). Soulless Spike's love for Buffy WAS genuine but it was the vampire version of love rather than the human version. Once souled, Spike can recognise the difference.

    The scoobies struggle to empathise with Buffy in season 6 because they literally can't. They've never come back from the dead or been pulled out of heaven. Willow was even put out because Buffy didn't say thank you after being resurrected. Once Buffy admits the truth, the scoobies still struggle to empathise because they're consumed by guilt and their own problems. Spike is the only one that can remotely relate to Buffy about being brought back from the dead. Willow's "addiction" to magic could also be explained by a lack of empathy from the scoobies. She brought Buffy back, thinking it was a good thing, and instead she only made things worse. She tries to fix things using magic but instead everyone turns on her because of it. She starts hanging out with Amy who is the only one that empathises with her and we all know how that ended.

    I think I would actually appreciate Season 6 (and the Spuffy relationship) more if it was actually about empathy rather than just Spuffy sex! Willow "magic is a drug" addiction! Spike loves Buffy because she's Buffy and the sun shines out her backside! etc.
     
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  2. Stoney

    Stoney Spiked!

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    I'd say the limitation of the emotions a soulless vampire can experience is the issue and yes, empathy is certainly a part of that because Spike doesn't care about what he did/does to people who don't personally matter to him and yet can once he is souled. When Spike shows caring it does still fall in line with him meeting his own wants for himself though, his own image that he wants to meet, and so there is still always a drive which is about 'him' mixed in that stops it being purely selfless and all about the other person. I can see what you mean about the comparisons of empathy in the season and I do think that this is very much a part of Spuffy in the season and yes, why Buffy is turning from her friends and towards Spike. This is why I always think the reversal of the stair scene in Revello that they use in After Life is very deliberately there to show how/why Spike perceives Buffy differently when she returns and it is key to how Spike/Buffy are then interacting in the season and why Spike feels there is a different footing between them because of that death/rebirth experience.
    --- Double Post Merged, Jul 25, 2017 ---
    In the comic S10, Spike is asking Buffy to just dust him if his soul is consumed (so unable to be restored) because he can't stand the idea of returning to being his unsouled self again. Buffy says that he wasn't all bad he saved them more than once and looked out for Dawn, and that he loved her. That is when Spike says he didn't, "I thought I did. Would've sworn it up and down. But it was a selfish bastardisation of love. The kind that wouldn't take no for an answer. That couldn't accept not havin' you, even if it was best for you. It was nothin' like what I-- It wasn't real love." Buffy does make the point that there are plenty of selfish humans and that she thought the good in him didn't need a soul to come out. But Spike just says it wasn't strong enough that he always won, that he couldn't be a killer. The distinction between being unsouled and souled is something I think that both Angel and Spike are very clear is meaningful in the depth/breadth of emotions they are capable of and how well those emotions can inform their choices and affect their actions. In Angel's conversation with Faith in S3 he refers to her having a choice he didn't have and I think this works when thinking about it as a restricted capacity when soulless. It isn't that they can't feel all these emotions, but they aren't as 'complete' as they are when they have a soul and they aren't able to not have that driving self-interest in them the same as they can when souled. It is interesting to think of that in terms of the relationship being too unequal between soulless/souled.
     
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  3. DeadlyDuo

    DeadlyDuo Scooby

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    @Stoney Interestingly, Spike does seek empathy from both Joyce and Willow in Lovers Walk, when he relays his heart break over Drusilla. Joyce is more sympathetic whilst Willow is just terrified. So Spike seems to understand the concept of what empathy is but can't actually feel it himself.
     
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  4. Smile Time

    Smile Time Fuffy Apologist

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    Sineya
    It has shirtless Spike and Buffy wears a funny hat at DMP.
     
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  5. DeadlyDuo

    DeadlyDuo Scooby

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    I feel sorry for JM in Season 6 because of the fact he was made to be shirtless/naked the majority of the time. His shirtless scene in Season 4 was much hotter because it was such a rarity lol.

    Buffy looked adorable in her hat lol.

    [​IMG]
     
    Smile Time: Regarding Spike, I can be shallow at times
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  6. Athene

    Athene Scooby

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    I loved Dawn's shoplifting arc, it's probably the most realistic thing I've seen on Buffy, and it was cool to see Dawn rebel :D

    image.png
     
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  7. Stoney

    Stoney Spiked!

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    Yes it really does come across as a limitation on their own ability/capacity rather than a total lack of understanding. Consider when Spike thought he deserved praise for not sampling the blood of the injured people in Triangle. He could see it would be something Buffy would disapprove of, but he didn't see that it was a basic standard of behaviour to not benefit from someone's misfortune and so his awareness/choice still lacked compassion. He showed restraint, but not for those people, not to be good, but to be praised for not doing it. Spike can be motivated to act in certain ways because of how he thinks it makes him look and to meet his expectations for himself/his image. Sometimes the motivation produces positive results, like his protection of Dawn which was seen as 'real', but it is still in large part motivated by meeting those expectations of himself. He cares for Dawn but he didn't do it to protect her life, he did it so that Buffy wasn't upset. o_O It is still somewhat twisted around his own priorities rather than being motivated to do 'good' just because it is the right thing.

    The way that S6 continues to explore this issue of what he is able to achieve, the mix of good/bad results that can come from his choices and how there is a great degree of unpredictability when the emotional capacity steering those choices is inherently limited and self interest can rule, I think is a great strength of the season for leading to Spike's soul being necessary no matter how he tries and whether or not he gets it right sometimes. It showed that what he was able to achieve whilst remaining unsouled could never be reliable, even if he wanted it to be. I like your distinction that this is because he was trying to cross that boundary with a souled human. For a vampiric relationship the acceptance of abuse/violence and the limited capacities on love, empathy etc aren't an issue when both parties are in the same situation. Once Spike is wanting to operate in the human world, it isn't enough because the inequality in capacities and reliability matters.
     
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  8. DeadlyDuo

    DeadlyDuo Scooby

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    To be fair to Spike, he did deserve some kudos for not sampling the blood, especially as he is a vampire and the smell of it would be sending his senses wild. But like you said, he was restraining himself, not because it was the right thing to do, but because not doing so would've made him look bad in front of Buffy. This is just another example of Spike learning empathy. He understands that sampling the blood would be a bad thing but not WHY outside of "Buffy wouldn't like it". It's almost kid like in the way he wants praise, but that's the thing, children have to be taught empathy. Spike receives a lot of criticism from the scoobies just because of who he is, most the time he doesn't give a damn, but he wants the praise from Buffy. Essentially Spike is saying "I'm being good, praise me!" Children respond better to praise and encouragement than they do to criticism. In season 6 Spike is "rewarded" with sex by Buffy because he listens to her and empathises with her whereas all he gets is criticism from the scoobies.

    Spike and Anya get on very well with each other because they can both empathise as being the "naughty children" of the scoobies that constantly get admonished for their behaviour by the others. Going with the notion that Spike learnt empathy= sex therefore sex=empathy, it's easy to see why he and Anya slept together. They both agreed it was a one time thing and they both felt a form of catharsis, until Xander showed up and criticised them both again. Xander is especially critical of Spike, referring to him as "a thing" and basically rejecting that Spike has any human degree of emotion. Buffy and Anya accept that Spike feels, as does Dawn, as did Joyce. It seems like Spike gets on with the people that treat him as a person and thus any emotion he is capable of displaying (love, compassion, etc) is directed towards them rather than at humanity as a whole.
     
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  9. Stoney

    Stoney Spiked!

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    But I don't think that Spike could have learned to feel to a breadth and depth that he just didn't, that is the problem. He could perhaps gain a greater understanding through being coached and encouraged, but that wouldn't have made a true depth and connection that was lacking grow. This is why his ultimate failure in S6 was not meeting his own basic expectation in what he thought he wouldn't/shouldn't ever do. He thought he could prioritise Buffy above all others and promise to not hurt her and he was wrong. He wasn't ever going to be able to function on the level that he gains through becoming souled. Learning in a clinical way what the boundaries are can always fall foul of him not realising something counted at the time, or because he misunderstood, or because he was too focused on something else or too angry to be considering what he has been told before etc etc. There is almost an inevitability to failure when the greater capacity is naturally missing and there is a meaningful limitation that can't be beaten. As you say, it is a souled/soulless divide in capacity rather than those emotions being impossible.

    It is interesting to think about how Spike responds differently to people that treat him more considerately. I'm not sure that could really be said of Buffy though, particularly in S5/S6 when she is seen to often tell him how little she thinks of him and to make the point of the souled distinction, also directing him to making the choice to change in this way. But that treatment didn't stop him putting her above everything else. When she calls him William when breaking up with him it is an acknowledgement of him but at the same time she is drawing that boundary between them because of his limitations, that his feelings are only real 'to him', which really hurts him. But then as he says in the comics, he would have sworn that he loved her fully at the time, because he didn't know better as he later does when souled. I love how nuanced all of this is across Spike's story and how it all feeds into where this season takes him. :D
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
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  10. TriBel

    TriBel Scooby

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    I've just read this on a Psychologist's website: "the ability to empathise makes us truly human". TBH, if I could get my hands on the psychologist in question, I'd string him up (my language at the best of time is "colourful" - you have no idea how much restraint I'm having to practise at the moment. My "stringing" involves very sensitive parts of his anatomy. Proof, if further proof is needed, that a PhD doesn't automatically make you the sharpest knife in the %*££*! - drawer*). My youngest son has autism and his ability to empathise is extremely limited - I and ONLY I have the right to imply he's subhuman. (My fury is directed at the Psychologist - not anyone here!).

    Spike...being "rewarded": aren't we all "rewarded" in someway? If my work is criticised my libidinous (self-love) reserves are depleted. If it's praised, they're replenished. If I'm constantly criticised I begin to feel worthless. That aside, I'm paid a salary as a marker of my worth. However, the wage slip that tells me how much money has I earn has an employee number on it - I'm objectified (it makes it easier to sack me if I'm not recognised as a person). Capitalism depends on reification. In fact, it's a fundamental aspect of industrialisation and metropolitan life in general (can you really empathise with every person you meet in a city? You'd go mad. Isn't it empathy overload that causes Willow to want to destroy the planet?). The point I'm making is, I'm not sure empathy is a universal value (I'd say it's a liberal humanist value so also timebound). If it is universal, we have very, very perverse social, economic and political structures. And, do we really direct our finer feelings to humanity as a whole? If so, why are there wars? Why do we still have nation states (nation states depend on "us" being different from other nations).

    Spike, as you say, gets on well with people who treat him as a person - as subject not object. In general, the Scoobies don't. They treat him as a thing. Giles and Xander are the worst. Giles "If I want your opinion Spike, I'll ask for it...I'll never want your opinion". Spike gets on well with Anya because they both fall under the label "monster" and monster is the necessary other in a binary opposition with human. Spike threatens the virgule - the slash in human/monster. The reason he goes to Africa is because he's occupying the place of the indefinable middle "I can't be a monster. I can't be a man. I'm nothing'. I've said before, I don't think his limits are necessarily intrinsic - they're an effect of language - language is a system with no positive terms. Human can only be defined by what it is not. Whedon may disagree because it inverts the logic of existentialism but it depends on where he sits on that particular spectrum.

    In terms of rewards, I could be mistaken but Spike gets nothing (or very little) back in the early episodes of S6. His love until OMWF is, by and large, unconditional. Willow wants thanks for dragging Buffy back from Heaven - she says so to Tara. In fact, I'm not entirely sure whether Willow's motives for bringing her back were as altruistic as she pretends. She was very self-satisfied with the display of power. On the subject of limits and the soul. Take a look at the scene in Get it Done when an ensouled and manic Spike is killing the demon (incidentally - that demon clearly represents Buffy) and the scene in After Live when she's telling him about heaven. I'm sure it's the same set. There's a sign on a door in both - it reads "Beware of the Dog". Spike must - metaphorically - go through that door - cross the threshold. However, it's not a true door - it's been propped up - there's a brick wall behind it. That's how difficult language makes it for him.

    I'm still going to slaughter the ******* psychologist!

    * No disrespect intended.
     
  11. Stoney

    Stoney Spiked!

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    I'm rewatching S6 at the moment and am really appreciating how well we can see how the character's individual issues are built on in this season. That they are all going through their own difficulties is of course part of why it all spirals so much, they're all caught up in their own problems. The last episode I saw was Life Serial and although I'd say it is one of the weakest of the season, how Dawn's problems from S5 are continuing to drive her behaviour here is great. She wants to be noticed, to be seen as real and to matter and her rebellion and bad behaviour are such classic examples of a call for acknowledgement and attention. But alongside this she is also growing up and wants independence too. That transition of wanting security and also freedom is difficult and I think very relatable.
     
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  12. Athene

    Athene Scooby

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    Yeah in a season that was about problems I was glad that even amongst serious topics like drug addiction and Buffy's depression they gave Dawn a little arc about stealing. I mean stealing is serious but it's something that quite a few teenagers do as a cry for help or for attention so it was almost normal for Dawn to do it after all she'd been through :)
     
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  13. flow

    flow Will you just hold me ?

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    He can stop himself from doing evil things if he wants to. He cannot stop himself from doing evil things because they are evil. That is why he doesn`t stop himself from trying to rape Buffy. He himself has not at all changed from S5. What has changed is, that in S5 the chip would have stopped him from trying to rape Buffy and in S6 it doesn`t work that way anymore.

    He can be good if he wants to. That is why he doesn`t give up Dawn to Glory. He protects her, because it is what he wants to do in this moment. He doesn`t do it because it is the right thing or a good thing to do. His actions in S5 or S6 are not based on ethics or morality (or empathy).

    Flow
     
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  14. Athene

    Athene Scooby

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    Exactly, I was trying to make the point that trying to rape Buffy is clearly a choice he made.
     
  15. WillowFromBuffy

    WillowFromBuffy "My bowling shoe fetish is not the issue here."

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    Could it by about emotions versus morals? Spike and Willow are two characters that generally tend to let their emotions guide their actions. Because Willow is an innately good person, her feelings generally inspire her to do good deeds. Season 6 opens with Willow breaking the laws of the cosmos to resurrect her best friend. It raises the questions of whether an act inspired by love can be immoral. The question becomes even more pressing when Willow erases parts of Tara's mind. In Under Your Spell, Tara sings that she is "bathed in light" but "something just isn't right". Willow has made Tara happier, but Tara seems to subconsciously suspect that her happiness has come at the cost of her autonomy. When Tara realises what Willow has done, she is rightfully angry, but Willow is incapable of understanding that she has done anything wrong, because her intention was to make Tara happy.

    Spike deals with the same issues, but because of his demonic nature, he takes it to an even darker place. However, despite Spike's failure to be a good person, much of his philosophy does make a whole bunch of sense.

    Then there is Buffy, who complains that she does not feel anything at all. She goes through the motions of being the hero, but her heart is no longer in it. Her attitude to her friends is colder and she is not as strong as she used to be.

    I believe that modern society wrongfully puts too much emphasis on morals, forgetting that emotions and empathy are much better motivators for pro-social behaviour. However, season 6 of Buffy shows that emotions and empathy can only take us so far, and that it must be tempered by reason and moral reflection.

    TL;DR Season 6 fu**ing rocks!
     
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  16. flow

    flow Will you just hold me ?

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    He is free to do as he pleases (within the constrictions of the chip) but he is not free to choose. Without the capacity to understand the concept of evil and good, without a moral compass and without empathy you can not choose out of your free will if you want to be evil or good. This is what S6 is about and this is why I appreciate S6 so much.

    Flow
     
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  17. Athene

    Athene Scooby

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    But Spike has shown that he has empathy and he's also shown that he can make decisions. Even if you think that he didn't sell Dawn out to Glory based on right or wrong if he was forced to always do the wrong thing due to having no soul then he would have had to sell Dawn out. Instead, despite selling Dawn out being the evil thing to do, he let his love for Buffy be stronger and he chose to do the right thing. So where was Spike's moral compass that was shown in season 5? It just went away in season 6 and it was played as if he has no clue what's right and wrong and that he has no free will when he clearly does based on what I saw in season 5. If he had no free will or empathy then in 'Fool for love' Spike would have shot Buffy instead of not shooting her just because he was affected by Buffy crying over her sick mother.
    --- Double Post Merged, Jul 25, 2017 ---
    Also..please don't shut this thread, I just didn't want to ignore the person that replied to me but I'll shut up now:oops:
     
  18. flow

    flow Will you just hold me ?

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    Maybe I cannot make myself clear enough. Spike is NOT forced to always do the wrong thing. He CAN make decisions. He cannot make them based on morality. He shows NO empathy or compassion. He shows love and passion. Those are different things. He has no moral compass in S5. If he didn`t have the chip he would have killed humans, maybe even Xander or Giles. Maybe he would even have tried to rape Buffy. He got himself a BuffyBot- for what purpose exactly ? Was that doing the right thing ? Was that showing his moral compass that was there in S5 and suddenly went away in S6 ? He did not shoot Buffy because he didn`t want to (anymore). He suddenly wanted to pad her back. He did not give Dawn away because he didn`t want to see Buffy heratbroken. It is not empathy as in "I understand, why losing her sister would break her heart", it is passion as in "Because I love her so it would break my heart if she is sad". Besides he loves Dawn as well and for own reasons but that is too long a Story and it is too late tonight.

    Flow
     
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  19. WillowFromBuffy

    WillowFromBuffy "My bowling shoe fetish is not the issue here."

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    I see it like this: If Spike had decided not to kill Buffy, because he realised murder is wrong, then he would be making a moral choice. Being good to the people we like is usually easy, because we want to be good to them. Spike is good to Buffy when she is good to him, but he is cruel to her when she does not act according to his wishes. An immoral person may feel inclined to do good things part of the time. That does not make them moral.

    Rousseau believed that a person who was un-corrupted by modern civilisation would not require morals at all, because all our natural emotions and instincts are pure. Hobbes and Freud, on the other hand, believed people are naturally evil and violent and that we need to constantly control our impulses to do cruel things. I guess the truth is somewhere in the middle.
    --- Double Post Merged, Jul 25, 2017 ---
    I think Spike is capable of empathy, but he tends to understand others in light of himself - which we all do to a greater or lesser extent.
     
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  20. Athene

    Athene Scooby

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    That's a fair assessment :)