Buffy looking up

Please complete the following travesty

Shall I compare thee to Hemingway?
Thou art more prolix and comma-prone
Rough winds do shake the deathless prose of May
And umm... something that rhymes with 'prone' about short-lived-ness.

That last line. Help.

Have been pondering the Buffy of "Reconnection", as I ease myself back into her head and her point of view.

I like Buffy. Except when I want to smack her.

She is childish, selfish, arrogant, short-sighted, foolish, anti-intellectual, ungrateful, and shallow. Her inability to stake Angelus in "Innocence" cost many lives: Jenny Calendar and Kendra are just the two we have names for. Her selfish childishness in season 4 really ought to have cost her a lot more than it did. Early season 5 Buffy: best of all Buffies. But her descent into suicide at the end of season 5 put her in an unresourceful state that cost others their lives; she eventually treated all her friends to the sight of her successful suicide attempt. In season 6 she was fundamentally broken and deliberately chose the pit for herself, though I don't think we can blame her entirely for that one. (Thanks, Willow!) Season 7... damn, they're all pod people in season 7. Can we pretend it didn't happen?

She's also self-sacrificing, loyal, loving, nutty-in-a-good-way, smarter than she wants to appear, resourceful, unbearably brave ("Prophecy Girl"), and a good friend. She does her damndest to raise her little sister.

Think about how we meet Buffy. She's at a new school, on her first day, and her mom makes a crack about trying not to get expelled. She meets the popular kids. She passes the "cool enough to be popular" test. And then... and then we see her react in dismay when Cordelia makes fun of Willow. And we see her go over to Willow, and offer friendship. And we love Buffy from that moment on. It takes a lot of Season 7 self-righteousness from her to kill that affection, born of the moment when she shows us her sweetness.

What an awesome character Buffy is. I was scared spitless to write from her point of view at first. Now I love it almost as much as I love writing Giles. (And of course they provide lots of wonderful ways to observe each other.)

"Reconnection" Buffy is, as I've said before, not a brilliant Buffy. She's unconsciously, instinctively the Slayer. (Contrast with Ars Draconis Buffy, who's conscious and aware and thinking at all times.) I'm drawing more on the sweet Buffy we saw earlier in the series, the Buffy who curled up with her mom to watch old movies. She's survived some nasty stuff, failed to survive some of it, been ripped out of heaven into horrible depression, had her satori moment, and made her decision to live and enjoy what she has. Willow has just attacked Giles, and... time to react, Buffy!
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Fair point . . .
but ... re: staking Angelus. Yeah, he was the bad guy, but one has to remember that Angel had spent a year loving and protecting her in a lot of ways. Also, the whole idea of 'souled/not-souled' vampire was a completely new concept to anyone but Jenny Calender -- who knew the entire time and never said a fucking word about it. So, we're talking about a Buffy who was faced with the situation less than - what, 2 days later? - of staking the man she loved and gave her innocence to, who has loved and protected her almost since he met her -- and who looks and sounds almost exactly like that man. I honestly have to say, I think anyone would have hesitated.

On a different point: when Willow summons her vampire-self, you'll note that *Buffy* was in the process of staking her when *Willow* stopped her. Also note that Xander had a chance to stake her at an earlier point and didn't. Also note that no once snarks on 'them' for not staking her, but Buffy gets no end of grief for Angelus (yes, I know the build-ups are different (and releasing an un-souled vampire who 'promises' to be good? WTF!?), but the end result is the same: loved one turned vmapire).

And I'm soap-boxing again. Sorry; it's just a sore subject for me. Buffy isn't a saint, but neither is anyone else, and I find it interesting to note that not one person put any blame on Jenny (after her death) about the situation, which is where a great deal of it belonged. Instead, it all got heaped on Buffy. Grr.

Still, having said that, there were many times I wanted to slap her upside the head with a 2x4, as I did with the others. But to me, those very flaws were what made me love her in the 5 Seasons That Count.
Re: Fair point . . .
You have made excellent points! I totally agree with you. I also have a soap-box with "Why Does Buffy Have To Be Perfect?" painted on the side. :)
Re: Fair point . . .
I love her better because she's not perfect. She struggles. She runs away. She screws up. And then she comes back, and tries again.
Re: Fair point . . .
Okay, I have to examine that moment a bit further here. It's an example of the hero making a choice that comes from the hero's nature (Buffy loved Angel; Angelus looks an awful lot like Angel) that is a mistake. She digs her own hole deeper because of who she is, good aspects as well as bad. We forgive the mistake because we see why Buffy made it, while regretting the misery that came from it.

Jenny Calendar paid for her mistake with her life, but I think she got plenty of blame beforehand. Damn, when Giles turns away from her and says "she said get out", my heart broke for him. He made his choice. Buffy finally forgave Jenny, for her Watcher's sake (a gesture that I loved seeing her make).
Re: Fair point . . .
Yeah, but Giles was the only one who made any sort of gesture against her -- and quite frankly, after her treatment of him during/after the Eyghon debacle, I couldn't believe he took her back. At NO POINT did Xander or Willow (and by extension, Cordelia and Oz) say anything against Jenny for enabling (in many ways, setting up) the scene for what happened. I mean, seriously. What 17 yr-old girl makes love to her boyfriend and expects him to turn into the Spawn of Satan the next morning? Willow backed Buffy up somewhat after the truth came out, but she never said anything directly. Actually, that would've been cool to see - Willow confronting a teacher she liked and respected betraying ALL of them. I actually feel cheated that Joss didn't let us see that.
Re: Fair point . . .
Side note: I'm talking about after she died, when Xander never shut up about Buffy's vampire boyfriend murdering poor, innocent Jenny. It was obvious to a rock that Buffy felt both guilty and responsible for that, but Xander never let her forget it or showed any respect for Buffy's feelings and situation. Also, notice no mention is made about Jenny's (IMO, rather stupid) decision to stay alone in a school (which is a public place with an open invite) after dark with a vampire she helped create on the loose.

Now, a lot of that is respect for the dead. Fine. I just find it interesting (well, annoying, really) that after she died, it immediately became 100% Buffy's fault for not staking Angelus.
I think Buffy sometimes gets a bad rap from fans. Yes, she can be all of the horrible things from above, but weren't the other characters horrible in different ways? Yeah, people died. She just wasn't emotionally strong enough to make the tough decisions. What 17 year old is? I think some fans expect her to act more mature than her age. For the first few years, her mom didn't even support her. And if you ask my husband, Joyce never did. She was trying to live two lives and didn't do a good job, who would? In Primeval, why is everything her fault?? I know she neglected Giles, but seriously, did he HAVE to drink? Wasn't that his choice? And Willow was just as secretive as Buffy, but no one is yelling at her. Xander spent that entire season in Anya's pants. But that's o.k., because they aren't Buffy. And why did she not bitch slap Dawn in season 7? She really needed it. Again, Buffy bad, everyone else self-righteous. It's her weaknesses that make her a good character. If she were perfect, how boring would that be?

Whew, I think this turned into a rant. Sorry about that. I actually agree with your assessment of her character and I know that you aren't belittling her. I love how you write Buffy and all of the characters as rounded, flawed people. Sometimes I get defensive, sorry about that!
Season 4 is problematic for me, and all my urges to rewrite canon start kicking in hard. I was out of sympathy with Buffy in "The Freshman"-- her timidity and her lack of appreciation for the greatness of college all around her! (I was more like Willow when I was that age.) And I was annoyed with her for ignoring her Watcher in favor of the Initiative. Giles didn't handle it well (one of the flaws in his character; he had replaced having a life with being a Watcher, and didn't know what to do when that prop was taken away) but she really courted danger there.

Joyce. Ah, Joyce. You'll see what I think of Joyce if I ever manage to finish the Christian bond story. Grr.
I have Joyce and Jenny issues myself. Start with the easy one first: Jenny. What was she thinking to be staying after school, at night, no cross, no holy water, no freakin' stake or any protection at all when she knew she had to be on Angelus' short list? Yes, she wanted to re-soul Angel and yes, she felt bad about betraying the group. Well, she should have felt bad and she acted like a complete moron. If she was that careless with her life, it's amazing that something else hadn't gotten her long before Angelus.

Let's move on to Joyce. She comes across as a good mom; concerned about her daughter's strange activities and worried that she's running with a bad crowd. OK, that's the surface. Buffy's first day at a new school: "Try not to get expelled?" That's great advice. Put her up for mom of the year. Visiting Mr. Giles in the library in Bad Egg: calling Buffy a burden to the one teacher in the school that cared about her--no worries that it was going to make Buffy's life Hell as long as she got to whine to a complete stranger. If Giles had been just a regular guy, this could have made him suspicious of Buffy, made him stay away from her. How about throwing Buffy out because she couldn't accept who her daughter really was? How about whining to her bookclub friend Pat about how hard it was to have Buffy home again? Embarrassing Buffy in front of a room full of her peers at Dead Man's Party. How about when she tattled everything she knew about Buffy's grades, troubles etc. to Ted, a guy she barely knew. A guy whose side she took over her own daughter's. And yes, I know he was drugging her but I don't really find that to be enough of an excuse. If Joyce bitched to these 3 people, who else was she telling? I'm willing to bet it was everyone she met. I think we are seeing a subtle mother/daughter dynamic here where Joyce wants to retain power over a daughter who is maturing away from her control.
I hated Joyce in "DMP". (Was angry with her in "Anne", too, for being such a jerk to Giles. A Giles who was doing her job running around looking for her daughter.) Was furious with Oz. Was beyond furious with Willow, who whined about issues that were months old in her life. Hello! Stabbing your boyfriend and sending him to hell is a bit more traumatic than your epic journey of self-discovery as a witch, here, babe. Have some sympathy with your friend; why not ask her why she booked?

Giles was the only one who reacted reasonably in DMP. He sniffled in the kitchen, and was just glad to have her back. And then patiently worked to extract from her the real story of what happened.
I agree with you about Joyce, I hated her in DMP, too. That is one of the episodes that I have the most trouble watching. Joyce kicked Buffy out of the house when she told Joyce that she had to save the world, and then when she comes home, Joyce acts like she is such a burden. Joyce also tries hard to chain her to the house and doesn't want to acknowledge the fact that Buffy can take care of herself in Band Candy. I was extremely angry with Buffy's friends. I couldn't believe the way they treated her at the party. And Willow whining about Buffy not being there for her when she was going through boyfriend and witch stuff. All of them didn't even let up about it after Buffy was back in school, how much apologizing does she have to do and why does no one else ever seem to have to apologize. I loved Giles' reaction, though. He was so relieved to have her back and then knows her well enough to know that she had a big reason for running away. He doesn't stop digging until he finds out the truth. I loved Giles for that.
I know this was last night's conversation, but I just wanted to add that Joyce joined a book club while her daughter as missing, and was busy reading Deep End of the Ocean, instead of helping Giles look for her. She was a sucky Mom. I felt bad for Buffy when Joyce died, but I didn't miss her.
(Way late response, I know.)

Joyce: the list of strikes against
- Put Buffy into a mental institution when she became the Slayer
- contributed significantly to Buffy's decision to run away from home by telling her to leave
- did not look for her daughter
- dealt with her guilt by dumping it onto Giles
- seemed to think her friend & book club were more important than her daughter when she came back
- was generally clueless

Joyce: the list of good things
- sympathetic mom overall
- tried hard; read books about parenting
- did in fact have a significant parenting challenge with a Slayer-daughter
- was doing it all on her own
- defended Buffy against Snyder
- hit Spike with an axe
- made hot chocolate for Spike
- was the only parent any of the Scoobies ever seemed to have, thus scored higher than the Harrises or the Rosenbergs
Yeah, pretty rich of Joyce to be complaining about Buffy's relationship with Giles when she barely knew what her own daughter was doing--and I don't mean the Slaying. How about cheerleading? She didn't even know Buffy was trying out. Something that important, that big, and she didn't even know. And her excuse was "a big show". Joyce always had an excuse, a way to blame somebody else for her shortcomings and Giles was convenient in Anne. And Willow needed her ass kicked all the way up to her shoulderblades for not being more sympathetic to Buffy's plight. This is the first, really blatant example of the Scoobies punishing Buffy for bucking their will, though hardly the last. They were oppressive, geeky dictators who acted like they owned her. As long as she stayed in her Scooby-defined box things were fine, but whenever she tried to have a smidgen of life for herself, she was ruthlessly punished.
I had to make one last comment to say I agree with you about the Scoobies. They went out of their ways to point out the things Buffy did wrong and make sure she apologized for them, but they never seemed to apologize for their wrongdoings. Plus they made Buffy pay and pay for any of her mistakes, but they were forgiven and forgotten. I like Buffy's friends, for the most part, but I really hated them and Joyce in DMP.