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If Spike had been killed off would you have kept watching ?

Would you have kept watching if Spike had been killed off

  • Nope, no Spike no me

    Votes: 5 9.8%
  • Hell Yes I watch for Buffy not for Spike

    Votes: 46 90.2%

  • Total voters
    51
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
43
As for Spike being 'the most interesting' I strongly disagree. He gets talked about so much because he pretty inconsistent when it comes to the different writers depicting him; fans love to point out all sorts of ways that these inconsistencies are really great writing (or maybe deep meta) that depicts a fascinating, deep, layered character...but a lot of it is projection.
Spike takes up lots of screen-time, gets some good/funny lines because he can be as rude and unpleasant as he likes without any consequences and is portrayed by a decent actor with charisma. Hardy irreplaceable.

I personally find all the characters interesting in different ways and for different reasons and find pretty much all of them integral to the show and that's part of why I think the show is so great, but I do tend to put Buffy and Spike both in the 'most interesting' category (both independently and together) followed by Faith and then S6 Willow. Giles is up there too actually and looking at this quick list it's the duality of their characters that I find so appealing - the 'good guys' who have darkness in them and how they navigate it and the 'bad guys' who have 'goodness' in them and how they struggle with it, etc.

I actually think it's fair that the writing 'inconsistencies' are maybe why Spike gets talked about more in an effort to make them work but part of the fun and interest (for me anyway and maybe others) is that I think they *do* work and with actually surprisingly little wanking being needed and I think a lot of that is because of Marster's performance. He has this joke where he says every season he'd ask the writers, "Who am I this year?" but the thing is he is always recognizably Spike, just a Spike who evolves (or sometimes devolves), which in my mind anyway is the mark of a good character and a really good actor. Marsters manages, imo, to retain a core self as he goes from (Red Herring) Big Bad, to Lovelorn Dumpee, back to Actual Threat, to Comic Relief, to Thwarted Actual Threat, to Unrequited Lover (and all the versions of that we get), to Friend, to Bad Boyfriend, to Complete Emotional/Psychological Mess/Wind Up Toy, and finally Second In Command/Partner (and sometimes all of those things at the same time), and I think this is because he tends to veer Method in terms of acting techniques and that comes from being a theatre actor with extensive training. He remembers his character's own history and has likely filled in a lot of it himself to make all these pieces fit together, so his 'fans' aren't actually doing anything different than what he's done himself and I really do think that's why he manages to bridge those 'inconsistencies' brought in by having multiple people with different ideas moving him forward as well as he does (Although honestly, Fury is the only writer I can easily identify where I feel he tries to push back against the character's evolution which I think is kind of a dick move tbh bc then it's not about the story that's being told or that's unfolding organically, it's about an Opinion on that story).

At the end of the day Fool For Love is what changes everything and elevates the character to more than just the Cordelia stand-in which Anya takes on in S4 anyway. It gives us that glimpse of that core or original self and reveals that Spike, as we have known him, is a consciously constructed identity, but the core of him revolves around love - Marsters himself said he was playing the love from the very beginning and adding more humanity than he was supposed to (he was not supposed to have any, but I would argue the show became better for the complications he added in order to keep his job longer), so that ended up informing what the writers decided was Spike/William's core self bc it was already there and built on. Spike and Identity - constructed and enforced - is huge and integral to his character. It's FFL that asks us to reevaluate everything we've seen and known that came before and also informs everything that happens going forward. It's brilliant, imo, and is probably the moment for me where I went from considering Spike one of my faves bc I found him to be fun and enjoyed his chemistry and interactions with literally every character to really considering Spike *himself* as a character and a person with his own arc and began seeing actual complexity and history and yes, layers, that I maybe didn't see before, or at least consider bc I was just taking him at face value like I was probably supposed to at that point. Anyway, it's not just fans like myself that are seeing these layers - as @TriBel pointed out there is a lot of academia around Spike in particular which points to the fact that there actually is a lot in his character worth evaluating and investigating and also points to trackable textual evidence to support it so it makes sense that he'd be prominent in fan spaces as well.

I wish I could find that post where someone actually made note of all the main character's screen time and ranked them because Spike was further down on the list than a lot of folks tend to think and I always think of that whenever someone remarks that he gets too much screentime or is somehow taking away time from someone else or another plot. If you (universal you) don't particularly like or care about a character or even just a particular story arc for them if you do, it's definitely going to feel like that - I have definitely felt that way here and there with a character or two, but again, I generally tend to go with welp I'm not interested in this but I know it's here for a reason and is probably saying something relevant about the wider story or character, so, ok, show, I'll accept it even as I'm ughing through it.
 
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spikenbuffy

"Hi honey, I'm home"
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Yes.

Buffy is the hero & the main character as long as she's alive, it's ok. I usually love plenty of BTVS episodes that doesn't involve Spike that much. Season 3 is one of favorite seasons which have only one Spike episode in it. Selfless is a great S7 episode which centers around the three Scoobies. The show can be amazing even without Spike though I love him a lot & will always love that he stayed on the show that long & got a place in Buffy's heart.

Would have loved to see Dawn & Buffy more bonding in S7.

Though the peak of BTVS would always be around S5 even more if Spike would have died in S6 along with Tara. Might would have wanted a lot more that BTVS ended at S5.
 

TriBel

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I wish I could find that post where someone actually made note of all the main character's screen time
You're welcome! 😄
Thank @Priceless - I think she might have found it originally. There's a thread somewhere. I MIGHT have found a different version but - as usual - I can't remember. :rolleyes:
 
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Skeletor Rigby
Skeletor Rigby
You're a hero! This isn't the one I was thinking of but it's even better :)!

thetopher

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Sineya
I personally find all the characters interesting in different ways and for different reasons and find pretty much all of them integral to the show and that's part of why I think the show is so great, but I do tend to put Buffy and Spike both in the 'most interesting' category (both independently and together) followed by Faith and then S6 Willow. Giles is up there too actually and looking at this quick list it's the duality of their characters that I find so appealing

Well I would add Angel and Wesley to those you've mentioned as to people who struggle with an inner darkness or who have 'badness' in them. But I don't see Spike as anything like that. Spike doesn't struggle with any kind of morality in a meaningful way or even for its own sake, he struggles with identity, which is actually the core problem with his character- he doesn't have an identity, at the end of the day he's pretty much all construct.

Even when standing next to Angel- another character who has (to some extent) constructed a self- he just seems like an empty suit. Or an empty coat at any rate.

I think a lot of that is because of Marster's performance. He has this joke where he says every season he'd ask the writers, "Who am I this year?" but the thing is he is always recognizably Spike, just a Spike who evolves (or sometimes devolves), which in my mind anyway is the mark of a good character and a really good actor.

But this could be said of every character on the show; the characters change but they are still recognizably themselves. This isn't something that inherently makes a character interesting, just consistent and well portrayed by an actor.
I would say that a great character should have one or more on-going inner conflicts. That gives them layers, there's the surface and then the push and pull of their wants and values.

Although honestly, Fury is the only writer I can easily identify where I feel he tries to push back against the character's evolution which I think is kind of a dick move tbh bc then it's not about the story that's being told or that's unfolding organically, it's about an Opinion on that story

It wasn't just Fury who had different ideas about Spike and Spike's progression, it was many other writers as well. Some would push him too far one way, soften him and evolve him too quickly and others would push him back too far the other. Spike's inconsistencies don't came from his characterization or mannerism but from his weird evolving morality. Mostly because the writers couldn't agree on any kind of consistency.
This is why many in the fandom have invented the idea that Spike was somehow special, because that's what some of the writers thought...but they never gave any onscreen reason as to why Spike somehow might be special, because, again, he is inconstant in that regard.

And that's why he gets talked about, not because of great writing, but because of poor writing. To be fair he gets talked about because he gets a lot of good lines and is entertaining, that's a factor.

At the end of the day Fool For Love is what changes everything and elevates the character to more than just the Cordelia stand-in which Anya takes on in S4 anyway. It gives us that glimpse of that core or original self and reveals that Spike, as we have known him, is a consciously constructed identity

FFL is a great origin story and tells us a lot about how Spike sees himself...but it's never really built on. We don't find out much more about William and who he truly is deep down. He's a romantic sap. Okay. Great. And?
Spike's identity is never meaningfully deconstructed or analyzed until the final season of Angel, and only then that's in concert with the writers trying to give him depth by making Spike finally consider purpose beyond whatever woman he happens to be in love with.

I wish I could find that post where someone actually made note of all the main character's screen time and ranked them because Spike was further down on the list than a lot of folks tend to think and I always think of that whenever someone remarks that he gets too much screen time

But I never said this. I didn't complain/remark about too much screen time, I just stated that he gets a lot, which is fact. But in actuality he effects the plot and other characters so little that it would be very easy to remove Spike from the show if, say, he was brutally killed off in a later season.

And, to be clear, I am not saying that it would make the show inherently better or worse if that had happened, only that he is not an essential character. None of my favourites (apart from Buffy) are.
 
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Well I would add Angel and Wesley to those you've mentioned as to people who struggle with an inner darkness or who have 'badness' in them. But I don't see Spike as anything like that. Spike doesn't struggle with any kind of morality in a meaningful way or even for its own sake, he struggles with identity, which is actually the core problem with his character- he doesn't have an identity, at the end of the day he's pretty much all construct.

Even when standing next to Angel- another character who has (to some extent) constructed a self- he just seems like an empty suit. Or an empty coat at any rate.

I didn't add them because they don't get interesting as characters (for me) in their own right until they're on ATS and I was thinking of BTVS specifically. Spike doesn't even get particularly interesting for me personally in any meaningful way until S5 and then retroactively becomes so even though I enjoyed him a ton from his first appearance onwards.

I completely disagree that he doesn't have an identity and is 'all construct' - we see that original identity/core self pretty clearly in nearly all of his flashbacks in BTVS and ATS and by seeing him in these flashbacks it's easy to identify which parts the demon twisted and exploited to become itself and which parts William/Spike himself rejected in order to form/solidify his Vampire Identity as he wanted it to be - the interesting thing for me is seeing how much of those William pieces are still in there no matter how much he changes his appearance or the way he speaks and how those pieces gradually get pushed down or how they come to the fore. I love the flashbacks of newly sired William because yes, we only see him as a human in roughly two scenes all told, but newly sired William is *very* William - he is recognizably *still* William just an uninhibited, unrestrained version with teeth. 'Spike' is a constructed identity that's been developed to hide/demolish William, ie, who Spike really is - a middle/upper(?) class, sensitive, bullied, lonely, disrespected, rejected momma's boy who is interested in 'soft' things like love and poetry and destiny. He's a complete misfit (his costuming alone in his first flashback screams it) and ultimately stays that way through the whole series. He can slap as many coats of paint or actual coats over himself as he likes, he's still basically that person just to an id-driven extreme when he's soulless.

I think Spike does struggle with morality (or his latent humanity which is kinda the same thing). He doesn't have it in S2-4 or at least is more amoral than anything else bc the demon is behind the wheel and then he's dealing with the discombobulating creeping in of it or at least some version of it in S5-6 because of the chip and the demon impulses being muzzled (and so the ego begins to emerge) and then having it in S7 because that comes with the soul. It goes hand in hand with his journey of becoming a person with full agency and the ability to make choices that are entirely his own - no demon pulling the strings, no First pulling the strings, just him as he is at this point in time with all his history and choices and decisions but now with the tools to interrogate them and have a real choice and chance to be better. Vampires are in a state of arrested development, but vampires with souls are able to grow up. BTVS7 & ATS5 are about Spike growing up.

But this could be said of every character on the show; the characters change but they are still recognizably themselves. This isn't something that inherently makes a character interesting, just consistent and well portrayed by an actor.
I would say that a great character should have one or more on-going inner conflicts. That gives them layers, there's the surface and then the push and pull of their wants and values.

I mean, sure, but no one else is really asked to play such different versions of their character or to function differently within the show and certainly not in such quick succession - Willow's changes for example are happening over the course of the series, not season to season - same with Buffy. I've heard a lot of folks say that all the versions of Spike we get don't make sense to them or are in direct conflict with each other or bad writing but I guess my point is that I don't necessarily think they are in conflict with each other or don't make sense (to me anyway) and if it is bad writing (which I actually go back and forth on even when considering the relatively small handful of moments I can point to without thinking too hard on it or doing a big rewatch) there's this phrase 'shining a turd' and at the very least I'm arguing that Marsters is particularly good at doing that, but also... I don't know if I think they're turds in the first place 95% of the time. Ok maybe more like 90%. Well, 92% lol. I'm not saying any of this is inherently interesting, btw, or that it has to be to anyone else, I'm just saying it's interesting to me :).

I think Spike is a great character *because* he has inner conflicts (most of them due to that push-pull of the demon vs his latent humanity which wouldn't have even been a thing without the chip which then dovetails with his issues of identity - core, constructed, deconstructed and enforced - some of which are directly tied to that emerging morality) and I think Marsters is great in the role because you can see that conflict in his performance, or to be more specific his face (sometimes it's subtle and sometimes it's not) as the latent humanity starts to come into play. Idk I see a constant push-pull between what his demon wants and needs (blood, death, destruction) and what he needs (love, acceptance, companionship) and how they are often in direct conflict with each other. There's also the struggle (which also ties in with the identity thing) of insisting you *know* yourself, you *know* you've changed and you're constantly having to assert your own emotions and personhood in the face of being called and treated like a thing and then having everything you think you know, you're *sure* you know about yourself blown to smithereens in a single moment and then having to figure out what to do with that.

It wasn't just Fury who had different ideas about Spike and Spike's progression, it was many other writers as well. Some would push him too far one way, soften him and evolve him too quickly and others would push him back too far the other. Spike's inconsistencies don't came from his characterization or mannerism but from his weird evolving morality. Mostly because the writers couldn't agree on any kind of consistency.
This is why many in the fandom have invented the idea that Spike was somehow special, because that's what some of the writers thought...but they never gave any onscreen reason as to why Spike somehow might be special, because, again, he is inconstant in that regard.

And that's why he gets talked about, not because of great writing, but because of poor writing. To be fair he gets talked about because he gets a lot of good lines and is entertaining, that's a factor.

I mean, I did say only writer who *I* could easily identify - I know there were others, there had to have been as it's rare to have any group of people in full agreement, it's just Fury's opinions always stood out to me as he seemed the most vocal (outside of the writer's room anyway - and in at least one instance was pretty insulting) and it seemed his views didn't always feel like they were growing alongside the path the show seemed to be taking - they seemed a little stagnant like he wanted Spike to stay the uncomplicated villain he was when he premiered and I mean Joss seemed to feel that way a while too tbf and idk exactly where the switch flipped for him but it absolutely did somewhere between S4 & 5 because he realized the potential of *not* keeping him that whereas idk if Fury ever came around? I feel like he did at the very end or read somewhere that he had so like, welcome, Mr Fury? Nice to have you? I'd actually love to read the other writers' thoughts if anyone has any links! I love that behind-the-scenes stuff and seeing how it manifests in the work because it can't not, I think I just appreciate it more when it's subtle and more organically worked in because then I won't question it. Oh! I forgot I'm also aware of Espenson's opinions - and she is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Fury so she's probably someone who folks might point to as pushing him too far or quickly but again I guess I'm not super convinced re: the inconsistencies bc I think when I step back and consider everything, they don't actually feel that inconsistent to me (mostly bc of Marsters and I can't separate his work from the words on the page), but as with anything YMMV and that's totally valid and fair. Also, I feel like I need to say I actually really like Fury's writing - it's just he feels weirdly stubborn when it comes to Spike and I don't know how helpful that is. It reads as strangely personal and maybe he just really wants Angel to be the one vampire that is unique which I mean fair I guess, we absolutely all have our favorites and don't have to apologize for them, but that's not what the show is doing and I think it actually makes Angel himself more interesting to have competition in that regard especially if it's Spike bc of their history and dynamic.

I actually don't think Spike is somehow 'special' and I always roll my eyes at that especially when it's coming from the writers themselves because they have actual things in text to point to as to why he is the way he is so it just comes across as lazy to me. I think the issue is they never really decided on how vampirism really works - they stated it as being one way at the top of the series and then half of them held fast to it even when the show itself (and even Angel at one point outright) refuted it. It's bizarre. The thing that's 'special' or unique about Spike is the chip paired with his original personality traits. Angel is p much the only vampire we get to know who does the split personality thing - Dru and Harmony (and honestly Holden too who just feels so fully realized in his one episode it's so great) feel like vampire versions of themselves - ie, id-driven, twisted versions. Angel feels like the anomaly here and I would love to dig into *that* bc *that* is juicy. Basically, people struggle with Soul Spike not being terribly different from Unsouled Spike (at least later seasons Unsouled Spike) so they just arrive at 'special' but like... the chip is right there as an answer. I guess in my idea of vampirism (again bc the writers didn't flesh this out or seem to consider it) is the demon is not the only thing in there, it's just the most dominant and is kept dominant by being fed and fed specifically human blood and via killing. When the demon is chained and not being fed that allows whatever scraps of latent humanity to come through - those pieces aren't necessarily entirely pure bc of the demon's infiltration and no soul, but they're driven by different needs and may make different decisions or at least allow for some kind of growth and change to occur - doesn't mean they won't fall back into baser instincts even without intending to bc again, id with just lil babby burgeoning ego driving the getaway car. That's how I make that world make sense anyway lol.

FFL is a great origin story and tells us a lot about how Spike sees himself...but it's never really built on. We don't find out much more about William and who he truly is deep down. He's a romantic sap. Okay. Great. And?

He's a romantic sap, but he's also isolated from his peers, either by choice or rejection (I'm betting on rejection, given how clearly he does not fit in and it's also consistent with his character throughout the series), wants something grander out of life and for himself than he has or can have which Dru directly picks up on when she sires him, is sensitive, caring and open in a way that feels female-coded, can be read as obsessive although in human form potentially in more of a way that hurts himself than anyone else, doesn't particularly stick up for himself, seems perfectly comfortable with making himself vulnerable (to women at least) and seems overall to prefer the company of women which makes sense to me - this stuff all evolves and gets translated via the Spike filter which is mostly posturing, costumes and swagger. Spike as a constructed identity is built on a rejection of William and that in and of itself tells us something pretty profound about William and his experience as a human, and I would argue also as a new vamp.

Spike's identity is never meaningfully deconstructed or analyzed until the final season of Angel, and only then that's in concert with the writers trying to give him depth by making Spike finally consider purpose beyond whatever woman he happens to be in love with.

I have no problem with that timing - he doesn't even get the chance to have an integrated identity until he gets a soul and in the first year of that he's got the First messing with him off and on through at least half of it, is offering himself mess that he is to Buffy to use in any way she wants as atonement and it seems to me penance, has no idea who he is now in the midst of all this, which, how could he all things considered and with everything going on, is fully aware of how much Buffy needs him as her second and is depending on him, is training a bunch of kids alongside her to avert a seemingly unavertable apocalypse and then whoops dead. It feels to me anyway that Spike's personal purpose in S7 is to atone or at least attempt to for what he did to Buffy. She is alive for him to do that unlike all of his other victims.

Spike already has depth, I and others wouldn't have so much to say about him if he didn't. Moving him away from having his life and existence revolve around a woman and love for a woman is huge character growth and he's at the perfect stage of his evolution to do that. I think it's perfectly timed and his doing it within proximity to Angel is especially great for both their characters.

But I never said this. I didn't complain/remark about too much screen time, I just stated that he gets a lot, which is fact. But in actuality he effects the plot and other characters so little that it would be very easy to remove Spike from the show if, say, he was brutally killed off in a later season.

I was commenting more on a trend I see which a lot of the time does come across as complaining so I absolutely apologize for lumping you in there - it wasn't my intention and I should have made that clearer. (Also, no value judgment on the complainy contingent! We all like what we like and want what we want :)). I guess I would ask and not even necessarily to you, but just in general and genuinely, what is a lot? He's a main character by the last two seasons, why shouldn't he have a lot of screentime? I don't even know if I would say a lot as much as more (which could feel like a lot) but I also don't mind it so I'm probably just less attuned.

I agree he doesn't really affect the overall plot but he does affect Buffy. Profoundly. I personally feel he is intrinsic to her character development and as she is the main character that makes it worth him being there and gives him value from a storytelling perspective. He also has an impact on the show itself in those later seasons because he's a binary smasher and a part of growing up is understanding that binaries are not helpful and can actively be harmful to ourselves and others. The show's worldview as well as Buffy's gets shaken by him in the later seasons (not just him but he is an easily point-to-able catalyst) and that's also where his value ultimately lies as a character as a whole imo. But that's all in those last two seasons - it starts to be set up in Season 5 but it's really in 6 & 7 when it all really comes into play, so yeah, you *could* remove him at the end of 5 (or even 4) because he's not integral yet in the way he becomes, but I can't help but think those last seasons would be really different - or at least Buffy would be - which is dandy if those season's aren't your bag (universal you) but less so if you like them as they are and especially if you find a lot of good stuff to dig into in them. Either way, I would absolutely trust the writers to give us something good! And if they wanted to head in the same direction those last two seasons re: Buffy's character journey, they would have gotten there, but I think Spike is a particularly good vehicle for that journey myself.

And, to be clear, I am not saying that it would make the show inherently better or worse if that had happened, only that he is not an essential character. None of my favourites (apart from Buffy) are.

I get you and genuinely sorry if I came across (or do!) as combative - absolutely not my intention, your comments just made me think and want to explore and express some things and I tend to ramble when I like talking about a thing which can maybe come across as LET ME WORDWALL TO PROVE I'M RIGHT - I promise that's not what I'm doing I just like have no inner editor lol.
 

Antho

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He wasn’t in season 3 and still a lot of people kept watching...

Side note : the older I get the more I disconnect myself from the show. I don’t have the desire to rewatch it. Not saying it’s bad, I still think it’s great but I don’t know I have the feeling it’s time for me to grow up, to move on. This board is actually the only element that relates me to the show.. I think I’m getting over my Buffy period.. I might leave the board very soon. Didn’t know where to say that.
 
S
Spanky
I've felt that way for a long time. If it were not for the board I wouldnt even think about Buffy anymore. But you can't leave the board! We have to hear what you think of Torchwood once you get done with Dr Who
Stake fodder
Stake fodder
You'll be missed if you leave! But I get it.
B
Btvs fan
I know how you feel
Dogs of Winter
Dogs of Winter
I think there's probably a lot of people on the boards who haven't actually watched the show in a few years

AnthonyCordova

modulating between criticism and reconstruction
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Sineya
I'm ambivalent about Spike. Ambivalent because on the one hand I can appreciate what he adds theoretically to the show, but on the other hand his presence in the final two seasons I more often than not view as an aesthetic failure. In other words (overall) in the final analysis I don't enjoy his contribution to the final two seasons. It often isn't pleasurable.
 

Altoz

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I have specific character preferences- Buffy, Lindsey, Oz, Willow, Tara, Drusilla and Wes- and I'm afraid Spike's not one of them. However, that isn't because I don't respect James Marsters for the depth and nuances of his portrayal and the characterisation involved there, because I do. Spike did develop as a character in Seasons 5,6 and 7, there's no doubt about it. If Buffy had lost him at the end of Season 6 (for argument's sake), she might have fallen off the edge and gone dark, especially if Warren Meers had been the one to stake him. As I've said before, both Buffy and Willow were sailing close to the existential edge during that period- Buffy because she'd been called back from the dead against her will and had to cope with life's gritty realities, and Willow because she wasn't ready for the power suddenly at her command as she developed as a wiccan and became addicted to darkmagick.
 

Dora

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YES Definitely should have gone in S5 the pushing of Spike in S6 and 7 was very detrimental to the show
 

thrasherpix

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Another question that might be worth exploring (either here or in another thread) is if you could choose, would you have had Spike died instead of Tara? (Tara wouldn't have to truly die for Willow to go dark, and there'd be other ways to bring it about.)

I don't know about the general audience, but the LGBT (especially L) took Tara's death really hard at the time, and some stopped watching over it. I didn't watch Buffy back then and even I knew about it by people hating on the show.
 

thetopher

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Sineya
@Skeletor Rigby : I am physically am unable to discuss every point you brought up- I just don't have the time lol- but feel free to PM me if you want to pick up and continue any discussion points.

I didn't add them because they don't get interesting as characters (for me) in their own right until they're on ATS and I was thinking of BTVS specifically.

Well I would lump Faith in that category too then; a lot of the exploration of her darkness and how she struggles mostly happens over on Angel.

I mean, sure, but no one else is really asked to play such different versions of their character or to function differently within the show and certainly not in such quick succession

Spike is literally the only character who gets a costume. So much so that he looks kinda weird without it; he's hardly a chameleon in terms of characterization.
I would say Wesley, Faith, Fred, Angel (Angel and Angelus are hugely different and yet DB can turn from one to the other or be one pretending to be the other and a viewer can tell which is which) all go through more sudden changes than Spike does. In S3 Faith is both scared waif and psychotic nutjob in a dozen episodes and its pretty darn believable.
But I guess they're all really compelling to so maybe there's something in what you say.

He's a romantic sap, but he's also isolated from his peers, either by choice or rejection (I'm betting on rejection, given how clearly he does not fit in and it's also consistent with his character throughout the series

How so? Spike the vampire was not an outsider for most of his unlife; he had his Dru and quite often he had a gang of subordinates to boss around when he wasn't running with the whirlwind. Spike was never a loner, he seemed quite sociable and charming when he wanted to be, plus to influence/be influenced by pop culture you have to be a part of it. Spike seemed quite well-travelled in his unlife.

That might've changed with the chip but well, that's circumstance, not an intrinsic part of Spike's persona; if the chip makes him an outsider to his own kind then that's the chip, not really him.

wants something grander out of life and for himself than he has or can have which Dru directly picks up on when she sires him, is sensitive, caring and open in a way that feels female-coded

Personally I would lump all this is with 'romantic world view' rather than individual traits. Romantics love to talk about destiny and such; that's just Spike's poetic self.

Plus for 'female coded' Spike is THE most macho character on the show; I don't feel that that's female coded at all; calling other men nancy or pansy sorta reeks of toxic masculinity tbh.

this stuff all evolves and gets translated via the Spike filter which is mostly posturing, costumes and swagger. Spike as a constructed identity is built on a rejection of William and that in and of itself tells us something pretty profound about William and his experience as a human, and I would argue also as a new vamp.

Well I agree to an extent, an awful lot of Spike is construct; he's got his costume and swagger and attitude. But who is he without that? S7 was the time to ask that and we never get any answers because, like you said, Buffy wanted and needed 'old Spike' and seemed to have neither the time or the inclination to get to know William.
 

Nearwild

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I would be emotionally eviscerated if Spike got killed off prior to S7, although it would depend a lot on how his story had progressed to that point. I'm cool with being battered with the feels by a show though and like the rest of the characters so would happily keep watching.
 
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Well I would lump Faith in that category too then; a lot of the exploration of her darkness and how she struggles mostly happens over on Angel.

I was already into Faith and her character arc before she went on ATS which is why I included her on my list. I don't really get the purpose of quibbling here? It's my list of who I'm personally the most interested in. I can put anyone I want on it or leave anyone off of it for whatever reason I want. There are characters I didn’t mention in my original comment who would absolutely be on my list and high up, but they are ATS characters and, again, I'm talking about BTVS.

Spike is literally the only character who gets a costume. So much so that he looks kinda weird without it; he's hardly a chameleon in terms of characterization.

I mean if you're positing that Spike is a relatively static character because his costume stays mostly the same throughout his tenure in the Buffyverse... every season he appears in would beg to differ. I'm guessing the writers and the actor playing him would too. And I never said he was a chameleon, I said he puts on 'Spike' costumes and personas but he's still ultimately William underneath all of it no matter how much posturing he does or how much he tries to get away from that part of himself (and we don't even know this as an audience until more than halfway through the series and I don't think any of the other characters actually ever know this). The choice to wear a costume at all and to construct a specific identity around it/with it is a part of his characterization/personality that is unique to him as a character which is why he's the only one who has one. Totally cool if you count that as a negative, but I love it because every time his costume does change or he alters or removes it even temporarily it's telling us something about what's going on with him.

I would say Wesley, Faith, Fred, Angel (Angel and Angelus are hugely different and yet DB can turn from one to the other or be one pretending to be the other and a viewer can tell which is which) all go through more sudden changes than Spike does. In S3 Faith is both scared waif and psychotic nutjob in a dozen episodes and its pretty darn believable.
But I guess they're all really compelling to so maybe there's something in what you say.

Sorry, when I said "no one else is really asked to play such different versions of their character or to function differently within the show and certainly not in such quick succession" I meant over the course of the series (again, BTVS's) as a whole:

- S2: Season Big Bad/Red Herring Big Bad turned Temporary Ally
- S3: Legit Threat/Pathetic Lovelorn Dumpee
- S4: Legit Threat (for like one whole episode lol) turned Thwarted Threat/Comedy Mule
- S5: Narrowly-Thwarted Legit Threat turned Unrequited *cough*stalker*cough* Lover turned Protector turned Ally turned Anti-Hero
- S6: Confidant turned Lover/'Bad Boyfriend' turned Complicated Ex turned Sexual Assaulter/Walking Existential Crisis turned Vampire With A Soul
- S7: Basketcase/Damsel in Distress turned Second in Command/Partner/Even More Complicated Ex turned Champion/(arguably) Requited Lover

If you think any other character on BTVS hits that many areas during their tenure, by all means map it out and share, I'd really genuinely enjoy reading it bc I love this kind of stuff.

To be as brief as I can be (lol) i/r/t the characters you mentioned specifically (nearly all of whom I consider to primarily be ATS characters for reasons I’ve already noted and again I have been talking exclusively about BTVS here) here goes with the distinctions I'm making. To be clear, I'm not saying that you have to make them, but I do and have been and that's where p much everything I've said on this particular part of the convo has been coming from:

Angel/Angelus is presented as and accepted as two different people*. I think DB does a great job when he switches between them and I really enjoy his performance, but he is not being tasked as an actor to reconcile those two disparate characters with each other (at least not during his run on BTVS). That's the difference for me. There is Angel and there is Angelus. Spike is always Spike. Angel doesn't toggle between Love Interest and Antagonist and back again as Angel, he stays the Love Interest and Angelus stays the Antagonist. He has a tight, planned story arc for his character. JM on the other hand is only playing one character (that was never meant to exist beyond a handful of episodes let alone become a main character that makes it not only to the end of the series but to the spinoff as well) and has to navigate what you yourself have called inconsistent or flat-out bad writing. As a result, he bounces around a bit more than everyone else and I maintain he made a really good (secret) choice when he was filming School Hard (which was not in the script or direction) that served to ground his through line throughout the series no matter what was thrown at him. It may seem on paper playing two distinct characters is harder, but I gotta tell you as an actor myself, being able to play at least two distinct characters is just called being an actor. Being able to make seemingly disparate things (and some times wildly disparate things) coalesce into a whole is a different level of difficulty. I've been there. Sometimes it's a gift, and sometimes it's... well let's just say it's frustrating.

*I’m assuming you brought up Fred bc of Illyria? Illyria is not Fred. She’s her own entity entirely. (Side note: I think Amy Acker is incredible and I have heart eyes forever at every single decision she made re: her two characters. Seeing her as Illyria actually made me love her as Fred more than I already did.)

IMO, Faith and Wes have recognizable arcs that progress p naturally. The difference between these two is if I watched BTVS3 and then BTVS7 skipping everything in the middle I personally wouldn’t be wondering what the hell happened to Faith. I’d assume she got some actual support and help for once in the space between. Wes however… if I went from BTVS3 to ATS5 I’d be like… oooh some sh*t went *doooooown* because he is nearly unrecognizable. Spike’s similar to Wes in that way for me as in between BTVS2 and then BTVS7 there is a huge gulf. I need to see that full trajectory, but the difference for me even here is Wes’s transformation from in-over-his-head-fussy-Watcher to hardened-deeply-sad-shell-of-a-man-barely-holding-on is a steady one that is not a result of not knowing what to do with his character. AD does not have to clear that hurdle or clear it continuously in the same way JM does.

At any rate, I never meant to imply that other characters don't change or even change quickly bc of course they do. The show in general would be hella boring if they didn't. I certainly never said other character's changes or arcs weren't believable. My pointing out that I think one particular actor (on a thread about his character) has a set of unique circumstances that are different from everyone else's and imo make his overall job a little more difficult because of them and complimenting him on how well he does that job and manages those difficulties/circumstances is not a reflection on any other actor on the show or their characters and certainly not their talent. I'm kind of getting the sense that you feel like I've slighted everyone else by being so effusive lol. I assure you I could be just as much so over a handful of other characters/actors on threads that are about them.

How so? Spike the vampire was not an outsider for most of his unlife; he had his Dru and quite often he had a gang of subordinates to boss around when he wasn't running with the whirlwind. Spike was never a loner, he seemed quite sociable and charming when he wanted to be, plus to influence/be influenced by pop culture you have to be a part of it. Spike seemed quite well-travelled in his unlife.

That might've changed with the chip but well, that's circumstance, not an intrinsic part of Spike's persona; if the chip makes him an outsider to his own kind then that's the chip, not really him.

I never said he was a loner, I said he was a reject lol. And you had asked about William, not Spike, which is what I was initially responding to when I said he was rejected by his peers (costume, point of view, preferences, and interests are all presented as being markedly different from his peers' and clearly indicates he is on the fringes of this social group (which roundly mocks him when he is literally right there)), and yes, I also noted 'rejection' ends up being consistent through the series re: his character and I stand by it. He decides to fight 'his own kind' (the chip didn't make him do that, he chose to. It was the actual killing of fellow demons that got him kicked out of the club. Literally. This rejection was his own fault and warranted, but still. Rejection.) The Scoobies never actually let him in even when he actively fights on their side. Cecily rejects him, Drusilla rejects him, Buffy rejects him. The show shows us over and over again that he is always on the outs. He's an oddity. A misfit. He makes a deal with a Slayer to save the world when he is at Full Demon Capacity. He falls in love with a Slayer, gets a soul for a Slayer all while being a muted soulless demon, but a soulless demon nonetheless. He's a freak. He's a weirdo. What the hell is he doing here. He doesn't belong here. ("Where the hell do you fit in?")

We are never even shown that he has any real friends until Clem who we don't even meet until S6 and we don't actually know he is one until more than halfway through the season. Even then Spike could have just grabbed the first person he knew who crossed his path to go to the party with him and then a friendship developed from there which honestly I like to imagine is what happened bc I just think it's funny. Subordinates are not friends or even necessarily a social group. He didn’t appear to be chummy with the kitten poker demons (including Clem). Most of the time if he's not with Buffy or the wider Scooby gang, we see him alone in his crypt, alone in the cemetery, alone at the Bronze (with the exception of when he has a gf obvs). He and Dru arrive in Sunnydale alone - they didn’t bring or even gather an entourage lol they stole someone else’s. Were the Whirlwind friends or were they a pack? Spike didn't seem particularly beloved by Darla or Angelus. (And I don't think they were actually all together for all that long anyway now that I think of it? Maybe 20 years? I don't remember how much time was between Angel getting a soul and leaving for good.) You can be in the world (and a part of it as much as you can be being a creature of the night), be sociable and charming, well-traveled, know plenty of people/demons and be friendly enough with them (when you aren’t being an asshat trying to assert dominance out of some deep-seated insecurity) and still ultimately have no one (especially once your person, who you have spent your whole vamp existence revolving around for better or worse, leaves you.) He says himself he has never been close to anyone. I’m pretty sure we’re meant to believe him.

Personally I would lump all this is with 'romantic world view' rather than individual traits. Romantics love to talk about destiny and such; that's just Spike's poetic self.

Plus for 'female coded' Spike is THE most macho character on the show; I don't feel that that's female coded at all; calling other men nancy or pansy sorta reeks of toxic masculinity tbh.

His 'romantic world view' is an integral part of his characterization and absolutely informs his personality and choices. I don't think that and everything it entails is particularly handwaveable. Spike's 'Poetic Self' is a part of... himself lol. A big part. (Serious question, are you just looking for like, a list of individual traits like 'Sensitive', 'Passionate', 'Selfish', 'Reckless', here? Because, I mean, you could easily extrapolate any number of traits and certainly those from what I have said in my previous posts.)

I'm not saying Spike as a character is female coded just that he has several traits and behaviors that he exhibits over and over again that traditionally are or at least have been in the past* and these complicate the idea of him as a purely 'Macho' or hyper-masculine figure. He exhibits caretaking abilities with his mother, Dru and Dawn, Willow and Tara (when they're on the run in the camper). He's emotionally open with his mother, Cecily, Dru, Joyce, Willow and Buffy. He’s sensitive, demonstrates cognitive empathy and occasionally compassionate empathy and is emotionally insightful. Physically, he wears a woman's coat as his most identifying garment, paints his nails, dyes his hair, plus the other things I've already mentioned re: his interests (poetry, romance, soap operas, etc), he is the one who wants to talk about his and Buffy’s relationship and understand it and what it means, he's not content with Just Sex and genuinely seems to desire real intimacy. I'm not pulling things out of my ass here, there are Academic essays exploring this which would suggest there's enough there to write papers on it. *I have to note, I'm really not cool or particularly comfortable with traits or behaviors being expressly gendered like I've done here, it's reductive and gross but I am commenting on them from a 90s/early 00s perspective for the purpose of discussion which was often p reductive and gross (ESP in the early '00s omg) and now I’m going to take a shower.

I’m back!

He absolutely engages in toxic masculinity, though when it's really on display the machismo often reads as bravado and posturing to me but I think it's just bc I find it almost comedically OTT in comparison to how he is when he's not performing his Evilness so hard and is just being like… a guy. I'll give you he's the most macho out of everyone else, but I don't at all think it's an intrinsic characteristic. As for the use of the slurs, it could be seen as distancing himself from the "nancy boy" he perceived himself to be and is forever trying to get away from and also it’s not unusual for someone to repeat abuse that’s been hurled at them personally or even insinuated at as a protective measure. Maybe he is honestly homophobic, but that doesn't seem to be what's going on there to me. I don't think he really cares about others' sexuality either way.

Well I agree to an extent, an awful lot of Spike is construct; he's got his costume and swagger and attitude. But who is he without that? S7 was the time to ask that and we never get any answers because, like you said, Buffy wanted and needed 'old Spike' and seemed to have neither the time or the inclination to get to know William.

I see him pretty clearly (once he's souled and is, effectively, a 'real boy') as a blend of both Spike and William (an older, more mature and self aware William) integrated into a whole person (as much as he can be anyway at this point with all the PTSD and First F*ckery) who is now capable of actually understanding himself and others in a way he only thought he did before and there are scenes that speak directly to this. The point is he is figuring that out himself and struggling with it and the fact they let that play out over the whole season is one of the things I actually appreciate about S7.

Buffy needs 'Old Spike' and asks for him only when she is scared she is going to lose the fight and needs all the tools she has to stand a chance. She wants the demon back for the fighting but it's William/Souled Spike she lets hold her as she sleeps. It's William/Souled Spike she trusts to help her train the girls and have her back. She spends practically the whole season getting to know who Spike is now. She doesn't have to do that. She makes every effort to help him and keeps him around even when no one understands and would prefer she didn't, but it rings absolutely true to me that she does. She has every right to leave him rotting in the basement but if she did, she wouldn't be Buffy. There are plenty of instances throughout S7 that shows she’s confused about her feelings for him, or conflicted, but it's clear those feelings are there and persistent.
 

thetopher

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I was already into Faith and her character arc before she went on ATS which is why I included her on my list. I don't really get the purpose of quibbling here?

I'm not exactly quibbling, I'm just trying to understand your parameters. It doesn't matter so let's move on.

I mean if you're positing that Spike is a relatively static character because his costume stays mostly the same throughout his tenure in the Buffyverse... every season he appears in would beg to differ. I'm guessing the writers and the actor playing him would too. And I never said he was a chameleon, I said he puts on 'Spike' costumes and personas but he's still ultimately William underneath

I get it, but to me this is not Spike as character but Spike as 'function'; what is Spike's function in S2, 3, 4 and so on and of course its going to be different because he was inserted into the show about midway on whilst the writers are figuring out how to use him. Nothing wrong with that.

Xander or Willow changes from season to season because they are souled characters. Their circumstances change in realistic, relatable ways; they go to class, they date, they graduate, on to college (or not) and try and find their way. Because of this their characters evolve slowly but more substantively that Spike's change in circumstance.
By the end of the series they are much changed from the school kids that they were, and we say that happen pretty organically. Whereas really only Spike's function has changed. In S2 or 5 or 7, at heart he's still all about the girl...until those last moments of the last episode.

It actually makes sense because Spike- like all vampires- is static and can't change until he gets that soul (the chip artificially forces some change by limiting Spike's options)
To be honest its only here-post-soul where he becomes a disappointment to me; I'd rather he changed more rather than being yet another plot function for a season.

I never said he was a loner, I said he was a reject lol.

I still maintain that throughout most of his life Spike was never a reject, he was happy with the gang and happy with Dru; he got everything that he wanted that William was denied, he got 'well stuck it to the evil' and had loads of fun for over a century until the chip.

I find the whole William was rejected and then Spike was rejected comparison to be a little bit spurious; William was rejected because of who he was whereas Spike was rejected by what he does- his actions; he kills demons because he loves violence and can't kill anything else (so much so that before his discovery life loses all meaning and he attempts suicide) and the consequence are that, of course, he's rejected by those he prays upon.
And so then he hangs around the scoobies for a bit of protection and talks about being evil, then again, he is rejected.

But when he changes his behavior at the end of S5 he is, in a way, accepted by Buffy and then the group as a whole. And then even after Buffy's death until he walks away from them after her resurrection- he wasn't 'rejected again', he made a choice.
And lets not forget he regular plays demon-poker in S6 and seems to have made some kind of peace with the Sunnydale underworld; not much of a reject.


Buffy, Willow, Xander and co are rejects and Spike yet looks down on them for the most part (unlike Angel who empathizes those who are in some way isolated from the main; Buffy, Doyle, etc).
The only Scoobie he has any kinship with is Anya; she is, like him, a character trapped between two worlds searching for an identity. It always seems like Spike's journey is seeking out identity rather than seeking out belonging, like one might expect a reject to do.

I see him pretty clearly (once he's souled and is, effectively, a 'real boy') as a blend of both Spike and William (an older, more mature and self aware William) integrated into a whole person (as much as he can be anyway at this point with all the PTSD and First F*ckery) who is now capable of actually understanding himself and others in a way he only thought he did before and there are scenes that speak directly to this

To me Spike spends all of S7 trying to figure out who he is and doesn't actually manage it at all. When he tells Buffy that she's the only thing he's ever been sure of' I... guess I believe him because in the recent past of the season he's been insane, blacking out, killing people, being tortured attacking others, remembering traumatic memories, through it all always clinging to Buffy for dear life.
He has no new identity that comes with the soul (that I can see) so I don't view him as 'a composite' as all, he is William pretending to be Spike. Think of 'LMPTM'; Spike finds out about these painful, drenged up memories from so long ago that he's forced to deal with. Does he actually deal with them? Do they change hiis sense of self in how he behave? Nope, because he's cloaked in the Spike-identity so deeply at that point that poor William doesn't get to process it.
I think he only stops pretending away from Buffy over on Angel when he has to dwell on his future and his purpose.

As for awareness; I just don't see him having any real insight into Buff- because the soul skews all his previous memories and contextualizes them to such a degree he's basically remembering somebody else's actions (maybe if he had another hundred years to pick over the memories he could garner some wisdom)- nor do I see Buffy having insight into him; he's a stranger to her, a blank slate with traumatic memories attached. Which brings us to...

Buffy needs 'Old Spike' and asks for him only when she is scared she is going to lose the fight and needs all the tools she has to stand a chance. She wants the demon back for the fighting but it's William/Souled Spike she lets hold her as she sleeps. It's William/Souled Spike she trusts to help her train the girls and have her back. She spends practically the whole season getting to know who Spike is now.

Huh. I don't see that at all. Buffy and Spike seem to spend a lot of S7 in an awkward halfway state; they don't have that many meaningful or deep conversations, especially from Buffy's end. Lots of significant glances and stares.
I understand why Buffy is invested- 'got a soul for you' but its mostly because of circumstance; The First is using him so he might be of use as a warrior. As for Spike he is just happy to be in her company come what may, being accepted back is what he wanted.

It comes across as more co-dependent based on what one feels that the other needs rather than as any deep trust. Buffy can't really trust anybody she doesn't know, especially if they don't really know themselves. Basically the trust that she shows is mostly conditional and circumstantial until Empty Places where she is at her lowest point and she gives in because she's tired.
After that? Only then is there something real there between them...and its far from what Spike wants and is pushing for.

Anyway, I have no real interest or passion in talking about Spuffy so I'll get away from that tangent.
 

Dogs of Winter

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Wow. I didn't even realise this was a thing!

I liked Spike but preferred him in S2 - 3 as a villain, or in S4 as someone who stirred up trouble and got to interact with lots of cast members, rather than in later seasons when he seemed to spend most of his time with Buffy, so I definitely would have carried on watching for Buffy and Willow and everyone else

I can understand why some people say Spike is the most interesting part of the later seasons, but at the same time think if Spike hadn't been there in S6 + 7 that the other characters would have been given more interesting things to do

Well I agree to an extent, an awful lot of Spike is construct; he's got his costume and swagger and attitude. But who is he without that? S7 was the time to ask that and we never get any answers because, like you said, Buffy wanted and needed 'old Spike' and seemed to have neither the time or the inclination to get to know William.

I agree that a lot of Spike is construct and would have loved it if they had examined who he was without that construct in S7. The show teased the idea they would do just that in S7 and then just backed away from it before they gave us any answers
 

Btvs fan

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Wow. I didn't even realise this was a thing!

I liked Spike but preferred him in S2 - 3 as a villain, or in S4 as someone who stirred up trouble and got to interact with lots of cast members, rather than in later seasons when he seemed to spend most of his time with Buffy, so I definitely would have carried on watching for Buffy and Willow and everyone else

I can understand why some people say Spike is the most interesting part of the later seasons, but at the same time think if Spike hadn't been there in S6 + 7 that the other characters would have been given more interesting things to do



I agree that a lot of Spike is construct and would have loved it if they had examined who he was without that construct in S7. The show teased the idea they would do just that in S7 and then just backed away from it before they gave us any answers

They did make fun of that construct in Angel S5 with his jacket "Its my second skin , I'll never get it back " "I sent another 10 to Los Angeles along with a fine assortment of shoes"
 
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