snickfic: (Buffy destiny)
[personal profile] snickfic
Thinky thoughts on Buffy's Slayer identity in S5 have been muddling around in my head a few days, and a comment by [livejournal.com profile] penny_lane_42 lured them out. I'm pretty sure I'll have more to say on this subject, but here's the first part.

"Death is your gift" is one of rich/irritating phrases which may mean any or all of a number of complementary interpretations. I tend to assume (and maybe this is a completely idiosyncratic opinion) that, whichever interpretation one chooses, the Primitive is speaking of Slayers in general as well as Buffy in particular.

So, here are the possibilities as I see them:

1. "Your death is your gift to the world." I think this may be more general applicable than just the situation with Dawn and Glory; that a Slayer's death is always, symbolically, her final sacrifice for the sake of humanity.

2. "Your death is your gift to you." This plays off Spike's death wish speech, Buffy's increasing mental/emotional fatigue, and her ongoing struggle near season's end with the idea of just giving up and letting the world go hang. Again, both general (Slayer death wish) and specific (Buffy's fatigue).

3. "The deaths you cause are your gift to the world." This interpretation of the Primitive's intent seems a reasonable one considering the dark side of Slayer origins as revealed in S7, the attitude of the Council, and the fact that it's not certain that we're supposed to consider the Primitive as being On Our Side, wherever that is.

4. "Killing evil [or maybe just killing] is your vocation, that which you are best suited to do." I'd say that killing as Slayers' vocation is pretty well supported. Yes, there are other aspects to saving the world, but Buffy herself says in Buffy vs. Dracula that she's been out every night, not patrolling but hunting.

I think that a lot of the thematic complexity of the season has to do with the tension between these different interpretations of Buffy's role as Slayer. The "Slayer as killer" interpretation gets most of its support at the beginning of the season, with the hunting reference and Dracula's description (and also Riley's in Restless) as a killer, while death as Buffy's gift to the world seems largely to be borne out in The Gift.

And of course, if Buffy were tryingto use the Primitive's word for guidance, she could also have justified a very different action in The Gift. Buffy, were she not our Buffy, could have killed Dawn to save the world, making Dawn's death Buffy's gift to the world.

Date: 2010-03-16 01:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] penny-lane-42.livejournal.com
Hahaha! Your icon is ironic, considering our earlier conversation!

I love this post a lot. I think you're right, definitely, in that it could be any of these and is probably all of them.

Back to what I was talking about earlier, though: the theme is so important in S5 that I think we're supposed to see it as foreshadowing...at least in retrospect. Knowing, as the writers did at the beginning of the season, that Buffy would indeed die to save the world, yeah, I think we're supposed to associate them with the two. Now, as you say, that doesn't necessarily mean that Buffy was meant to die within the world of the show, but the lines between what we're supposed to see and what the characters see has always been a bit blurry for me anyways.

Wow. That seems extremely incoherent. I'm yawning as I type. I'm gonna shut up now.

Date: 2010-03-16 06:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mabus101.livejournal.com
I always felt cheated by the way S5 played out--I was expecting to get more about the origins and nature of the Slayer. Granted, I wasn't seeing the series in order, so I found out a little sooner (I think--I forget when I saw S7), but even then it felt rushed and not entirely what I was hoping for.

I always figured that meanings 1, 3, and 4 were tied together in that comment. 2, however, never really occurred to me. It probably has to do with my attitude toward death and life--death is never really something I look forward to, even at my lowest. (I guess I haven't been as low as Buffy.)

Date: 2010-03-22 06:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mabus101.livejournal.com
I sometimes wondered if Toth had originally been meant to hit Buffy rather than Xander. I meant to do a fic on that but never completed it.

And what you say about Buffy is true...but it's a sufficiently alien attitude to me that I just didn't think much about it.

Date: 2010-03-16 07:30 pm (UTC)
deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)
From: [personal profile] deird1
(I want to leave some very insightful comment on this, and thus kick off an even longer discussion, but all I can think of is...)

...very fascinating.

Date: 2010-03-21 11:07 pm (UTC)
next_to_normal: (The Slayer)
From: [personal profile] next_to_normal
I... agree with all of those interpretations. Is that allowed? lol

I think that a lot of the thematic complexity of the season has to do with the tension between these different interpretations of Buffy's role as Slayer.

Yeah, I kind of wish they had played that out a bit more. In the end, it seemed like everything was simplified down to Buffy's choice regarding saving or sacrificing Dawn. Which was interesting, don't get me wrong, but I wanted... more.

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