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That Spike's relationship to Buffy is less complex than Buffy's relationship to Spike?
Reply to karma comment: I find that surprising. Spike may be somewhat conflicted about Buffy, such as when he says: "I'm not a complete idiot. I know that this is wrong." But his feelings for her are mostly pretty simple. He likes her and wants to be with her. As he has no soul, he is willing to win her affection by any means necessary.
Buffy's feelings about Spike are much more opaque to me. And I think she goes back and forth a lot. Is he her enemy, her confidant, her tormentor, someone she should kill, someone who deserves her protection, her friend, a useful ally and does she maybe even love him? Like, does she tell the truth in "Chosen"?
Definitely agree with both Darla/Angel and Wesley/Lilah for complexity. The first one can be read so many different ways, from romantic, to sibling-like, to mother-son/pupil-mentor and so much more and it all depends on how you look at it and what season we're dealing with. With Wesley/Lilah, the complexity is in how they both don't fit at all and yet fit together so well. I also love rewatching their scenes in S3 before they wound up in bed together and muddled things even more, because that back-and-forth of Lilah trying to seduce him into W&H and Wesley not agreeing but not pushing her fully away either in the hopes that she will give something away, just super interesting.
First thought I had was Buffy/Faith, their relationship can be viewed through so many different and compelling lenses- first as mirror versions of each other, sisters, lovers, friends, enemies. They protected and defended each other when on the surface it wouldn't make sense to do so I just love them and I love that after over 20 years we still have lively debates about them.
Next I would say Buffy/Dawn.
There's a reason why I place Faith, Buffy and Dawn as my favourite characters I guess 😁
I pretty much agree with all of them being complicated and I think it's what makes them interesting enough to dissect.
Angel/Darla - all the relationships between sires and offspring are sort of incestous as they're part parent/child and part lovers - certainly the direct ones. It's complicated because in this case neither person in wants to take or yield too much control to the other. I think Darla selected Liam to sire because she wanted a companion of would maintain and retain a degree of independence from her but would never abandon her completely. Thee ladies at still dead think that the lover side is a loving, respectful and passionate relationship that is not romantic. I think that's right and part of the respect is the acknowledgement each one can take care of themself which is why they seemingly abandon or betray each other. One of the things I admire about Darla is her self reliance. Julie Benz has talked about Darla seeing herself as an abandoned ex wife and she only really softens to Angel when he offers to sacrifice himself for her in The Trial
The closest parallel I can find for Darla and Angelus is (ironically considering that Sarah played a modern version of her) Mertreuil and Valmont. Like them it has similar levels of power play, sexual attraction, the feeling of being soul mates but also a fear of dependence on each other especially on her side.
Willow and Xander change over time. Although Willow's love for Xander saved him from becoming like his father someone on TV Tropes makes a good case that Xander fears that unless the person he's with is strong enough and he will take advantage of that and end up bullying them. It's a big part of why he jilts Anya. So until Willow proves she will NOT let Xander do that - he subconsciously will stop herself thinking about her romantically and he dallies with her once she's stepped away from him, is dating someone else and has started to become powerful magically and also grown in confidence. While he dates someone who knows will not take his crap - i.e. Cordelia. After their dalliance - both of them stop thinking of the other that way or start trying to Willow's reaction to the relevelation he did the wild thing with Faith shows it's harder for her let go of then she thinks. However she doesn't seem jealous of Anya and after she becomes involved with Tara she starts thinking of herself as gay it makes things easier with Xander. He becomes her friend she had a puppy love crush on in her own mind. I think both of them then come to see their relationship as a quasi sibling one at this stage.
Willow and Buffy. The relationship is never equal, because when Buffy comes to Sunnydale she is so much cooler than Willow, and I think Will resented that imbalance. Buffy was mostly oblivious to this until season 6.
Faith and Buffy. Made me think Buffy might be bisexual.
Xander and Cordelia/Anya. Much like Spike Xander seems to be a tormented soul who seeks domineering women. I think he sort of hates himself and takes it out on others.
Joyce and Buffy. These two obviously loved each other but there were moments where I questioned Buffy's parents.as fit role models. I think Joyce is more selfish than people think.
And there are more. Most of the dynamics are complex due to good writing
Angel and Darla; when you have a centuries-long relationship in which you've both been soulless, both been ensouled, been enemies, lovers, mother and child, hated and loved each other and then become parents, complexity is a given.
Angel and Connor; Connor's emotional issues and upbringing greatly affect his relationship with Angel, Connor aging so fast definitely upsets the balance, Angel tries but always seems to fall short with Connor, but he obviously loves his son so very much, and Connor cares about Angel and wants his father's love, but also simultaneously hates him and wants to hurt him. "Complex" is putting it lightly.
Angel and Lindsey; does Lindsey admire Angel? Hate him? Want to be him? Does Angel see anything redeemable in Lindsey? Does he need him? Do they share a mutual enemy or a mutual friend in W&H? Gah, there's so much to unpack here!
Drusilla and Angel; is she his victim? Does she have more power than we give her credit for? What are Angel/Angelus' true feelings about her?
Angelus and Drusilla- I don't think it's as clean cut as "Drusilla is cheating on Spike with Angelus". I think there are underlying elements there which were never fully explored. The fact that Spike doesn't blame Dru one iota for what she does with Angelus, but is quick to call her out on the chaos demon, shows that he isn't blind to her faults which suggests that he knows it's not so black and white.