Squeeze the trigger

7.17. Lies My Parents Told Me, Airdate: 03/25/03 (UPN, 8 pm PT/ET).

Treeeeeeemendous. Buffy's back, which is tremendous, Giles is back, which is tremendous, too, and we learned why Spike is only Spike and Angel is Angelus and Angel, which actually is more than tremendous... ok, I have to slow down. Breathe. Ok, second try.

Normally I try to focus on one particular aspect of each show, but this time I feel it's necessary to address more than one. You may say, that's only because I missed BtVS so much, thus, I can't refrain from talking about it all day, but no, who could love BtVS that much? (Ahem...)

Spike/Wood: The fight's over and it isn't. Wood's still seething with rage, and it's viable he'll settle his issue with Spike later on. Speaking of Spike: finally, we learned why the First Evil was able to trigger him. Back in his days as William, we experienced his deep love for his mother (pretty much the only one who liked his poems). When he was sired, he decided to turn his ill mother, too. But she turned out to be a real bad-ass, torturing her loving son by telling him his utmost desire would be to have a shag with his own mother. In a moment of rage he killed her, but the pangs of bad conscience never ceased to pop up.

The FE made the bad conscience work against him, and it was only through persuading himself it was the demon that spoke through her, that he finally was able to detrigger himself.

This aspect is of vital importance and I like to see it as a key moment. BtVS as a series always tries to tell us - at least, that's how I see it - that we have choice of being what we want to be. Magic as such is neither bad nor good, it's what you make of it, as we've seen in season 6, when Willow went all apocalyptic.

Last week, we discussed in length (and with a lot of emotions coming into the mix), how the process of siring within the Jossverse exactly works. We didn't settle yet, but I'd like to bring up the topic once again. According to my theory, we have something I called vampon. Vampon is a non-corporeal demon, which hasn't a personality as such, but who feeds on memories and thus acts as catalyst by bringing out the worst somebody can be. He not only turns the psychology of someone upside-down, but also fills the body with a sort of mystical energy that allows a vampire to live on blood and to live for ages, without deteriorating as quick as a dead body would.

We've seen what it did to Spike's mother. She wished William wouldn't stick around her so much, but look for a nice girl instead. Vampon perverted this and thus she said after being sired, William craved to get back into her and that's why he can't think about girls, he only craves for her. In terms of psychology, that's not alltogether wrong. William was deeply unsecure, sticking too close to his mother. He really may have craved of being still a child, perhaps being still inside of her, because he was afraid of life. But I don't think the urge went as far as she suggested. That's what vampon added.

It's very interesting to see what vampon did to Spike: almost nothing. I guess, it's because he has been dependent on love - always. He didn't crave for more power, for wealth or anything else but love. He even wanted to continue his life-style, living with his mother for eternity. Drusilla then took the part of his mother, giving a mystic new birth to him, and all he did was to try to please her - and to live according to the rules she set up for his new world. Torturing and killing were soon to be part of this new world, but not part of Spike as such. He didn't make the rules he tried to comply with them.

This is what makes Spike and Angel totally different. Liam was a good-for-nothing. When he got power, he wanted to have more, and more. He wanted the torturing, the killing, he craved for it. In season 2 of BtVS you can see the difference: Spike kills the Annointed One, because he's too ambitious, and when Angelus comes around, he wants things to stay as they are, whereas Angelus wants to take over the world and installing a whole new order.

I doubt - even if most of you won't agree here - that Angelus and Angel are two separate entities. It's two sides of one mind. Angel suffers from schizophrenia. When his soul was restored he suddenly had a conscience, because that's what a soul in the Jossverse does: it gives you the choice of good and evil, but it doesn't make the choice for you. Because he had the choice, he wanted to refrain from being evil, but Angelus, i.e. the craving for blood, murder and power, still is luring him on. He split personalities, subduing the evil one into his subconsciousness, but he never dealt with it in terms of psychology. He never found out why he's a potential murder, why he's so violent. He never cured himself, so if the soul goes missing, he's all evil again. When he says, he's battling his demon, he means, he's battling his dark side, not a different entity within him. That's why we saw Angelus and Angel together in the fight in Orpheus (AtS 4.15.) even when the jar with Angel's soul was still intact.

Spike, on the other hand, isn't split, but the FE tried to do so. He could have been split just like Angel into something like Spike/Spikificus, but he prevented it by resolving his issue. He cured himself (and actually Wood helped him by squeezing the trigger). When Spike had the chip, it acted as a sort of artificial soul, forcing him to make a certain choice. But it was only under the influence of the trigger, that he went all wild and evil just as Angelus does. He fighted it, and thus stayed Spike. If he loses his soul again, he doesn't turn as maniac as Angelus does, but he loses his ability to make a choice, because he can't decide anymore what's good and what's evil.

Giles: Giles returned, and we both learned why he was gone and why nobody mentioned it. They thought he was on a tour to get more SiTs, while he was away to find a way to cure Spike. He did, even when it took the aftereffects of the spell to let Spike realize why he could be triggered. Giles' relationship with Buffy is worse than ever before. Since he aligned with Wood to kill Spike even though Buffy opposed the very idea, she now feels, she's on her own to make decisions. Whereas it was sad watching the final scene, I think it's exactly what Buffy needed.

Buffy: Why did Buffy need to break up with Giles? Well, I am not saying that there wasn't another way, nor she that completely broke her ties with him. But the series is about growth, and what we see, is Buffy has grown. She's an adult now, she can and she will make her own decisions, no matter what Giles is saying. She always had had her own head, but somehow Giles always has been there as a sort of father figure, taking responsibility when Buffy couldn't. To see her alone now, means seeing her as an adult on the same level as Giles - so, I think this break-up isn't a break-up at all, but the beginning of her new relationship with Giles - as peers and not in a teacher-student way anymore.

I hated when Buffy said, now she'd sacrifize Dawn if it was to save the world - wasn't it what Joyce said when she appeared earlier this season? I hate violence, and I hate seeing good guys turn evil to fight the evil. On both serieses (BtVS and AtS) they say the same stuff: You have to become evil to fight evil. Faith didn't yield to the lure of aggression in AtS 4.14., but Buffy clearly did. Not only now, but even before she told everybody. I think, she's not right, and I hope the series will prove me right, and not her. In BtVS Buffy always found a way of reaching her goal and still staying the good one (so she could go to school happily ever after, well, until the school burnt down, anyway). I think, when the writers contrasted Faith and Buffy, they said exactly what I say now. By the way, isn't it interesting how staying in heaven made Buffy and made Cordy both evil - well, Cordy now is all evil, I know, and Buffy isn't, but she's getting attracted to the dark side more than she used to be.

Anya, Xander, Willow: Poor beloved bastards. No subplot for the core scoobies - and there are only five eps left. Willow left for LA, where she was last week. That's the minus when you make a cross-over and both serieses air on different networks.

All in one: this week's BtVS was great. I loved it, it was tremendous fun to watch. The dialogues - hiiilarious. And I think, they made a point as far as the Angel/Angelus/Spike issue is concerned. But what do YOU think about this week's "Lies My Parents Told Me"? Let me know!

Shortcuts: BtVS 7.17. Lies My Parents Told Me

What happened?
Giles tried to cure Spike with a magical device, that was supposed to bring his memories back. If Spike remembered the song and its meaning for him, Giles was sure he's able to fight the trigger. Spike changed for a moment, then resisted both his wild ego and his memories. Wood and Giles then tried to kill Spike - Giles by directing Buffy's attention elsewhere, and Wood by doing the stake thing. Wood told Spike about his mother, and Spike suffered from the aftereffects of the spell and his mind went back to the time he was sired. We learn, he's got a bad conscience because he sired his mother and she said some mean things to him as a vampire. Spike managed to detrigger himself by admitting it was the demon that spoke through his mother, and in return he said, Wood's mother didn't love him enough to quit her job as a slayer, but his mother loved him. Buffy then appeared, but Spike didn't kill Wood. Buffy threatened Wood not to try that again, and talked about the mission pretty much the same way Wood's mother used to. Then Buffy broke with Giles and told him, she has learned everything she can learn from him.

Topics addressed?
The Buffy/Giles relationship has developped further, their teacher-student relationship has ended, perhaps they'll now learn to accept each other as peers. Wood is quite angry because of Spike, and may do something later on that leads to some hassle for the Scoobies. Spike fought his inner demon and finally coped with what his mother said to him. Buffy's still approaching the dark side.

Any strange things?
Once Spike talked about his funeral, and how he had to crawl back to the surface, plowing through the earth with his bare hands - why didn't his mother attend his funeral? She didn't seem to be surprised when seeing him. Writer Peter David addressed another aspect, I didn't see at first: Why was Spike able to enter his house without an invitation? Doesn't a vampire need an invitation for the house he used to live in? Spike actually didn't feel bad about siring his mom, but he was feeling bad because of the things she told him. When he realized it was the demon that spoke through her, everything was okay, and he didn't feel too bad for killing her. Giles was strange. He knows Buffy for seven years now and loves her in a way, but gave up curing Spike after just one try.

Was it good or not?
For me, it's been one of the best shows so far. It had everything you possibly could wish for - except the Scoobies. It's five stakes out of five.

What do you hope for?
I really hope, there will be a Xander and/or Willow centred show. After all, we know both of them for almost seven years now and I'd like to spent some time with them before they turn the lights off and it isn't possible anymore.

Feedback (updated frequently)

Schizophrenia: Lots of people told me, I'm confusing the term schizophrenia with multiple personality disorder - right they are. I meant to write of multiple personality disorder, i.e. split personalities.

Giles: Some of you say, he'll stay at odds with Buffy, some even say, there'll be more of the gang at odds with each other, since they're packed together way too closely in Casa Summers. Josey wrote - and that's quite an interesting statement - Giles wanted to kill Spike, because he thinks he will have to kill Buffy and Spike would be the only one strong and quick enough to stop him. (Since the FE appeared due to the distorted slayer line, he may think so - but then, he may not.)

Violence: Tommy wrote, making sacrifices isn't the same as yielding to the dark side. Actually, Buffy said to Giles earlier in season 7, she knows, that becoming evil to fight evil doesn't work. Some of you refer to season 2, saying, she was strong enough to sacrifize Angel to save the world and she might have to make a similiar choice again in season 7, and since she knows that, she said, now she'd even sacrifize Dawn to save the world - a decision she wasn't ready to make in season 5. (Nuria wrote, she doubts Buffy would ever hurt Dawn, by the way, which would mean, it was only tough talk.) Honestly, I don't go with the Angel comparison, though I see it may be right. But Angel, after all, raised the demon in season 2 - the situation was different. Dawn, in season 5, didn't raise anything, she was innocent, and Buffy didn't want her to be killed because of that. Sacrifizing innocents, for me, falls into the evil category of things. In season 5, Buffy didn't have to jump, but she did - in order to save Dawn (and even back then sacrifizing her would have meant to save the world).

Spike's house: Alfred (who's actually called Dana) writes, Dru said something about the nice house and then added "It smells of daffodils and entrails", suggesting there was a maid who welcomed "Master Spike" home, thus inviting them in - a maid who then fell prey to Dru and Spike (thus the entrails Dru still smelled). Some British readers wrote, since Spike's mother said "coach", she really isn't living in London. Coach as in "stagecoach" meant at that time a vehicle used for long-distance travelling, whereas the vehicles used for inner city transport were called "cabs" (which doesn't mean they were all yellow and driven by foreigners). Spike, thus, may have had a pauper's burial in London, because nobody knew him there. Following his awakening he returned home and that's why his mother didn't know he was buried.

How is it going to end? I wrote about my theory in detail while reviewing 7.15. Get It Done. Nino added an interesting thought: Joss Whedon wrote a comic about Fray, the slayer of the future. It mentions, there was a slayer in the 21st century battling a whole army of demons and vampires, and when she won, all magic and demons were banned from earth. Did they talk about Buffy? Or is the background for the comic book just different from the TV series?

Tom Ahrendt


Thanks to: Brachnu for offering free web space, for listing my review.

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