Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Villains

Summary

An ambulance arrives, Xander takes them to the back where Buffy is on the ground. Willow cries over Tara's body. She starts using magic to bring Tara back. The paramedics work on Buffy. The demonic force Willow summons says Tara cannot be brought back. She died a natural death brought on by human means (unlike the supernatural demise of Buffy last season) and that cannot be changed. As they load Buffy into the ambulance, Willow comes out and asks what happened. Xander tells her it was Warren. She walks off and Xander has to get in the ambulance so he can't follow her.

Jonathan and Andrew are in jail. Jonathan is terrified, but Andrew thinks Warren will rescue them. They get into a discussion about Matthew Broderick, but Jonathan breaks it. He says this is real life. He says they were going to abandon him and that Warren would have screwed Andrew. Andrew is sure Warren will save them. Warren enters a demon bar. He starts bragging about killing the slayer. The demons have been watching tv and heard the news about a girl being shot and that she was expected to recover. They tell him slayers heal fast and she'll come for him. A vampire says he was going to eat Warren, but it will be more fun to watch the slayer deal with him.

Willow goes to the magic shop to look for black magic books. Anya tries to stop her, but Willow uses magic to stop her. She literally sucks the words off the pages. The black magic enters her, turning her hair and eyes black. Dawn arrives home and finds Tara's body. Warren has gone to see Rack. He wants to buy help. Rack tells him he has to fear Willow and her magic is really powerful. He says someone is dead and that's why Willow is after him. He says he can help Warren flee and attack, but that he can't guarantee it will be successful.

Xander is at the hospital watching them work on Buffy. The lights dim and Willow enters ordering the hospital staff out. She uses magic to cure Buffy and takes the bullet she removes from her. She says it's time to find Warren and walks out. Warren is at the bus station making a run for it. Xander is driving Buffy and Willow. In the back seat, Willow is using magic to control the car. Buffy says it isn't right. Willow walks onto the highway to stop the bus. Buffy and Xander try to stop her, but she uses magic against them. She takes control of the bus and stops it. She makes Warren get off. She destroys him, but it's a robot. She realizes she was tricked. Buffy and Xander rush over. Willow says they will find Warren and kill him. She tells them about Tara. Buffy says killing Warren isn't the way. That it will destroy her. Xander says the magic is too strong. Willow says she's not coming back. She uses magic to knock them down and by the time they look up, she's vanished.

Xander and Buffy return to the house and find Dawn with Tara's body. Cut to Tara's body being removed. The police have come and gone and Xander and Buffy have changed out of their bloody clothes. Dawn says she hopes Willow finds and kills Warren. Xander agrees. Buffy doesn't. She says Warren is human and the human world has rules to deal with people like him. She says they can't control the universe. That they have to live within the rules. That breaking the rules will hurt them, as using magic can destroy Willow. Buffy says they should try the shop for a locator spell. Xander says he'll go, Buffy says they can't leave Dawn alone. Dawn wants to go with her, but Buffy says it's too dangerous. Dawn says she wants to go to Spike. Xander is against this, but Buffy says Spike can't and wouldn't hurt Dawn. Willow is in Tara's room, using magic to locate Warren.

Buffy and Dawn enter Spike's crypt and startle Clem who is watching tv. He tells them Spike has left. He says he's house sitting for Spike to stop others from squatting there. Plus, he doesn't have a tv. She asks is Dawn can stay for a while. Clem says ok. He asks if she likes parcheesi. Or they could rent a video, he's dying to see The Wedding Planner. Buffy asks when Spike will be back and Clem says he only said he could be gone for a while.

Spike seems to be in another country. He walks into a cave where he speaks to a demon. The demon knows he has come for something and says he isn't strong enough. That he was a warrior once but has been emasculated by his love for Buffy. Spike disagrees, he says it's the chip. The demon says he couldn't survive the trials he would need to go through to get what he wants. But Spike says he will.

At the shop, Xander is helping Anya who is just coming out from the spell Willow used on her. She tells him what happened. She also reveals she is a vengeance demon again. Buffy rushes in and Xander tells her about Anya. He asks why she hasn't gone to Willow and Anya says Willow wants to do the vengeance herself. She agrees to help them, for Willow. She says she's chasing Warren in the woods.

In the woods, Warren comes up behind Willow and hits her in the back with an ax. But she just gets up and pulls it out. He flees and tries another magical weapon, but she overcomes it as well. She catches up with him and he says it was an accident. He flees again and tries another magical defense (a kind of blob net), but it doesn't work either. She captures him, magically tying him up. He makes a show of bravado and she realizes he has killed before. She raises up the image of his exgirlfriend who berates him. Willow realizes killing women gives Warren sexual satisfaction. He's still acting brave. Xander, Buffy, and Anya are nearby. Warren starts shouting for help. Willow takes out the bullet she recovered from Buffy and starts magically pushing it into Warren's chest talking about the damage it will do. When he starts begging her to stop she sews up his lips. She unsews them so she can hear him. He says she's not a bad person like him. The others run up and he says that she'll lose them if she kills him. She says she's bored and magically flays the skin off him. She incinerates him, says one down, and magically disappears.

Analysis

Vengeance is all consuming. Your goal is to have it consume your enemy. But pretty soon it consumes you and your friends. It happened to Warren, it's happening to Willow, and maybe it will happen to Spike. It doesn't matter whether you're a psychopath, a good person, or a demon. Once you have that tiger by the tail, it's hard to let go.

Warren's hatred for women doesn't need any description. It's becoming clear that Warren was always a nerd. The kid picked last for games. The boy no girl was interested in. The kid the bullies picked on at school. He looks good next to Jonathan and Andrew and that's why he associates with them. But he's a lifelong loser. And rather than try to lift himself up (as Jonathan did in Superstar), he tried to pull others down. Especially women. He blames them for all his problems and he blames Buffy for his immediate woes. Hence his attack and his enormous pride, his need to brag, about his attempted murder. Of course, he thinks he really did kill her. And he expects a bar full of tough demons to suddenly be impressed by him because of this. He doesn't realize, or doesn't want to know, that by attacking Buffy with a gun he's proven nothing about himself. It doesn't make him brave or fearful. It just makes him a guy with a gun.

Last week I spoke of the phallic symbolism of the orbs and the gun. This week Warren learns that not even the mechanical sexual extension of his weapon makes him any more potent. He's the butt of jokes in the bar and he finds himself fleeing from a girl. Not even the slayer, but her side kick. For a crime he committed by accident. His vengeance, meant to consume his enemies, now consumes him. In the bar, the vampire says he was going to eat Warren, but will let the slayer take her vengeance instead. Willow trusses him up, skins him, and cooks him.

It's interesting that in the previously on Buffy segment we get Buffy calling Warren a bitch, in the jail scene we get Jonathan worried about becoming the sexual victim of other prisoners (again making a link between the misogynistic Warren who played upon the homosexual fantasies of Andrew and the almost rapist Spike), and Warren eventually finds himself being penetrated by a weapon wielded by a lesbian who also brings his exgirlfriend back to life to criticize him. Is there anything more emasculating than this?

As Buffy warned, Willow is headed down the same path as Warren. Tara's death leads her to the use of black magic, exactly the thing which drove Tara from her the first time. She's forgotten that bitter lesson in her grief. At first she doesn't talk to her friends (basically brushing past Xander as the ambulance is taking Buffy away). Then she attacks them (first Anya in the store and later Buffy and Xander on the highway). The scene in the magic shop is reminiscent of a scene in Triangle, where Willow was taking items from the shop for a spell and Anya tried to stop her. Willow persisted and the result was the release of the troll who was Anya's exboyfriend. In that scene, we saw the genesis of what was to come. Willow has consistently had trouble playing within the rules. When told Tara's death is natural and irreversible, she goes into a murderous rage. Buffy notes that we cannot control the universe and that we have to live within the rules. The rules make life possible. Willow won't accept that truth. The cost of not accepting it has gone from a funny confrontation with a troll to a relationship threatening addiction to magic to becoming evil. When Willow says she's not coming back, she's referring to the voyage from light to dark. She knows that this time she has stepped over the border for the last time.

Her murder of Warren seals that decision. She breaks the final rule - she kills a human. As Buffy (and even Warren) warned, this makes her as bad as the evil she set out to combat. When she incinerates Warren, she also burns up her chance at redemption. She has let vengeance replace law. Most disturbingly, her rage has turned cold. She kills Warren when she is bored of torturing him. Not in a white hot fury, but in a cold and calculating manner. She's become as evil as any demon we've seen in the Buffyverse.

Warren's relationship with Willow is much like Spike's with Buffy. Both are unmanned by contact with a strong woman. The demon says Spike has let himself be castrated. That he's no longer a warrior. Warren starts off with a show of bravado, but soon Willow has him begging for mercy. Warren has to face the trial Willow sets for him and he fails to survive it. Spike is ready to face a trial to get what he wants, the power to prove himself to Buffy.

The question remains what does Spike want? Does he want the chip removed so he can be pure Spike or does he want a soul so he can be pure William? Or maybe something in the middle, combining what he has learnt in his long life as Spike with the sensitivity he had as William. It isn't clear whether, like Warren and Willow, his goal is to return and prove how strong he is by destroying the woman who unmanned him or whether he plans to return and prove to Buffy that he is someone she could love.

One of the things I like about the Buffyverse is that evil is something you find in humans and demons and so is goodness. I think Spike has lots of good qualities and we've seen plenty of other demons who are good. Clem definitely falls into that camp. He's a nice guy with a pretty decent set of values. You can trust him with your children, as Buffy trusts him with Dawn. Maybe he plays poker for kittens, but who doesn't have a few flaws. On the other side you've got real evil like Warren and fellow travelers like Andrew and Jonathan. It's interesting that Jonathan has grasped the reality of his situation - no is going to help them and they are in deep trouble. Andrew continues to believe Warren will save them. He's living a fantasy. I think for Andrew and for Jonathan this whole super villain thing was a fantasy. Jonathan snapped out of it when Warren killed his exgirlfriend. But Andrew never has. I'm not sure whether he's more to be reviled or pitied. But you have to believe there is hope for redemption in Jonathan. When put to the test, he did do the right thing.

Some quick final thoughts. It's interesting how desperate Warren is to have a reputation. As the leader of the trio (whom no one has ever heard of) and as the conqueror of the slayer (only he fails). I was wondering why Xander didn't realize Tara was shot. Then it occurred to me that Willow and Tara were upstairs. Xander had to go into the house to call the ambulance, but he would have been preoccupied and not have heard Willow. He hadn't been in the house before, last week we saw him walk up to Buffy outside. So he didn't know Willow and Tara were there. And he was too preoccupied to notice the blood on Willow when she came out. That bullet looked in awfully good shape. Shouldn't it have been misshapen from the impact? Demons really love television. Glory's minions knew all about Bob Barker, Spike is a huge Passions fan, the demon in the bar didn't like being interrupted while his show was on, and Clem is at Spike's so he can watch tv. One of the great things about this show is the way the mundane is juxtaposed with the mythical. So we've got a demon offering people Bugles and liverwurst and wanting to rent The Wedding Planner or play parcheesi.

Lines of the week:

"The joint changes you." - Jonathan reacting to jail.

"I'm not coming back." - Willow making the decision.

"I didn't want to leave her alone." - Dawn on the last thing she could do for Tara.

"Being a slayer doesn't give me a license to kill." - Buffy on the difference between her and Warren.

"I've had blood on my hands all day." - Xander on survivor guilt.

"I want to go to Spike's." - Dawn on who makes her feel safe.

"Plus I... don't have a tv." - Clem on why he is guarding Spike's place.

"Bored now." - Willow letting us know how evil she is and how unfulfilling vengeance is.

"One down." - Willow promising more.

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