Rhonda V. Wilcox

"Every Night I Save You": Buffy, Spike, Sex and Redemption




For Godsake hold your tongue, and let me love


Call us what you will, wee are made such by love;
  Call her one, mee another flye,
We'are tapers too, and at our owne cost die,
  And wee in us find th'Eagle and the Dove.
The Phoenix riddle hath more wit
By us, we two being one, are it.
So to one neutrall thing both sexes fit,
  Wee dye and rise the same, and prove
  Mysterious by this love.
John Donne, lines from "The Canonization"

"When I kiss you, I want to die."

Buffy to Angel, "Reptile Boy" (2005)


"When I kiss you, it'll make the sun go down."

Dream Riley to Buffy, "Hush" (4010)


"The sun sets, and she appears."

Spike to Buffy, "Once More, with Feeling" (6007)


"Every night I save you."

Spike to Buffy, "After Life" (6003)


[1]Love, death, rebirth, redemption—the connection of these is certainly not new to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, the word-play equating sex and death was a favorite of John Donne and other Metaphysical poets. The relation of sex and death might be causal—a carpe diem appeal to a mistress—or metaphoric—a representation of the transcendence of the intercourse of lovers. While the Metaphysical poets' striking conversational style and exuberantly noticeable metaphors suggest that they are part of Buffy's distant literary lineage (on language and symbolism, see Wilcox, "There"), the connection of love and death runs throughout literary and cultural history. The physical act of love and the physical experience of death can both be seen as threshold events, as scholars such as Victor Turner and Joseph Campbell have acknowledged; they can both be seen as transformative, involving a sometimes transcendent change of condition. Most of these terms can, of course, be applied to vampires, those liminal creatures who revisit, night after night, the edge of life and death. and whom many scholars see as representing the id, the unconscious, repressed urges let loose. The pre-vampire version of the character would then represent the ego or conscious self. We recognize this two-sidedness as metaphor; but those with a knowledge of literary history may also at this point find themselves thinking of the strange case of Dr. Donne, a very two-sided personality: Jack Donne, the wild young author of bawdy love poetry, who was converted to the Reverend Dr. Donne, Dean of St. Paul's, a famed and powerful preacher. The metaphor resonates because it touches reality. And today, the text in which this metaphor and reality converge most powerfully is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

[2]Not only horror scholars in general but Buffy scholars in particular, such as Diane Dekelb-Rittenhouse, Tanya Krzywinska, Roz Kaveney, and Mary Alice Money have discussed the vampire versions of characters in Buffy. Multitudes of vampires in Buffy are fated to be nothing more than dust, but for a few we know both the human and the vampire version, and those few are generally allowed to live. They are thus also allowed to display the ego-to-id relationship of the human-vampire elements of the personality. As has often been noted, when the alternate-universe Vamp Willow makes her appearance in Sunnydale, we get our first inkling of Willow's lesbian leanings; and in a variation on the order of the change, the vampire Angelus's cruel obsession with Buffy is a transmutation of the love of Buffy born by Angel, the vampire with a soul: as Willow says to Buffy, "You're still the only thing he thinks about" ("Passion," 2017). Drusilla, the chaste nineteenth-century girl who was to have become a nun, the bride of Christ, becomes instead the sadistically sexual paramour of the vampire Spike. The alternative world's harder side of Xander feasts on Cordelia with Will—clearly a vampiric extension of the urges the normal Xander felt for Cordy. We also see vamp/nonvamp versions of both Darla and Harmony—who, however, seem to have lived their lives in fuller expression of their ids, since the change is not marked for either: Darla goes from colonial prostitute to bloodsucker, Harmony from high school ditz to vampire ditz. Only briefly, in the episode "Nightmares" (1010), do we see the vampire face of Buffy—and so briefly, in fact, that we do not see any evidence of a vampire personality.

[3]We do, however, see an extensive exploration of Buffy's dark side through two other characters: Faith and Spike. And as we move to this variation, we will move from Freudian analysis to include Jungian. To quote a very simple expression of the idea by Jung, "the realm of the shadow [. . .] is [. . .] the negative side of the personality" (147). As Don Keller and I, among others, have discussed, the dark-haired, violent, promiscuous Slayer Faith is Buffy's Shadow figure. In Faith, Buffy has battled the dark side of herself, and they have yet to come to resolution—though, interestingly, Buffy's Shadow Faith has taken Angel as her Vergilian guide through hell in her search for atonement on his eponymous series. And Buffy has at least recognized the need to allow that search, because, as Faith says to her, "[You] kill me, you become me" ("Enemies," 3017). Less obvious but even more interesting is the relationship with Buffy’s second shadow, Spike.

[4]It is not until the fifth season episode "Fool for Love" (5010) that we see the late Victorian human version of the vampire we have known as Spike, or William the Bloody. Certainly the living William qualifies as an exemplar of repression of the id: when asked to join a conversation about a rash of recent, presumably vampiric, disappearances, he remarks, "I prefer not to think of such dark ugly business at all. [. . .]I prefer placing my energies into creating things of beauty," such as his poetry, which his acquaintances term "bloody awful." The Spike whom viewers have come to know since Season Two is a cheerfully vicious black-leather-wearing punk with peroxide blond hair, starting out as half of a Sid-and-Nancy set, with the raven-haired Drusilla, and later sidetracked by the implantation of a chip in his head which prevents his harming humans. The Victorian William, however, is dressed in a foppish suit that recalls not only the three-piece outfit Spike wears in "Tabula Rasa" (6008), but also the one in Xander's dream in "Restless" (4022), when Xander imagines Spike training to be a Watcher under the guidance of Buffy's mentor the Watcher Giles (and in fact Spike has recently performed some of a Watcher's informative functions). Furthermore, instead of white-haired, William is as blond as Buffy.

[5]In the excellent short essay, "Spike as Shadow," Delores J. Nurss explains:

Spike has devoted a century to acting out William's shadow [and that also], Spike particularly reflects Buffy—he forces her to confront the fact that she is as much of a killer as he is, however much of a good guy she tries to be. But [the] Shadow doesn't just hold the bad things you've suppressed, but also the good you've turned your back on. When Buffy has difficulty relating to her Mom [sic], she comes home, to her horror, to find Spike sipping tea with Joyce and crying on her shoulder. When Buffy fears to ever fall in love again, Spike falls in love with her. In the context of [the] Shadow, Spike has not made one inconsistent move, ever.

Nurss’s remarks on Spike as Shadow are, I think, very illuminating. Certainly Jung's words about the Shadow seem very apt: it "behaves more or less like a primitive, who is not only the passive victim of his affects but also singularly incapable of moral judgment" (146). However, if we wish to be strictly Jungian, we might note that Jung says that "the shadow [ . . .] is always of the same sex as the subject" (147). For a "contrasexual figure," "we meet the animus of a woman, and the anima of a man, two corresponding archetypes" (147), a male element of the female, and a female element of the male. Spike might be seen as Buffy's animus, and Buffy as Spike's anima. I find it interesting that one of the terms Jung mentions for the anima is the phrase "My Lady Soul" (though he dislikes the term as "too vague," 150-51—and sounds a bit like Barry White), a phrase which seems poignantly appropriate if we see Buffy as representing Spike's, or William's, anima. Despite the occasional felicity of application, I choose not to be too strictly Jungian, since that would involve acceptance of declarations such as Jung's remark that "In women [. . .] Eros ["the function of relationship"] is an expression of their true nature, while their Logos ["cognition"] is often only a regrettable accident" (152). With comments such as these in mind, I am more than willing to overlook Jungian gender specifications and stretch a point to call Spike Buffy's Shadow as well. As Ursula K. Le Guin says, "Jung's terminology is notoriously difficult, as he keeps changing meanings [. . .]" (58). In fact, if one employs the connection of the animus to the "paternal Logos" (152), it seems hardly Spike-like at all. But using another emphasis in the definition of the animus, Spike (not William) as quintessential masculine seems quite appropriate. As I have written elsewhere ("Who" 6), the name Spike is clearly phallic; the whole Spike persona seems a highly masculinized compensation for the relatively feminized poet William. Whether animus or shadow, it is still true, as Nurss says, that it is dangerous to ignore it, destroy it, or be seduced by it.

[6]And thus we return to love and death. In "Fool for Love," the episode in which we first see William, the softer side of Spike, we also see Spike kill two Slayers. As he describes their deaths at Buffy's request, he explains to her that "Every Slayer has a death wish—even you." He warns her that she's "just a little bit in love with it," that someday she'll feel the desire and "the second that happens, you know I'll be there—I'll slip in." In this emotionally charged scene, the image of the phallic Spike "slip[ping] in" unquestionably joins visions of sex and death. So, of course, does Buffy, when she tells the ensoulled Angel, "When I kiss you, I want to die"—not an idle comment, made to a vampire. When Buffy imagines Riley in her dream in "Hush" (4010), she has him say, "When I kiss you, it'll make the sun go down." As Don Keller suggests, the sun going down suggests the unconscious (170). I would add that, despite this statement's coming from Buffy's imagined sense of Riley, who is soon to be her boyfriend, still the combination of the kiss, the unconscious, and the setting sun evoke the image of a vampire again. Of Buffy's three major sexual relationships, two—the first and last—have been with vampires—the very notably named Angel and Spike. (I plan to write an entire essay on naming in Buffy.) Angel can never make love with his beloved Buffy because he will lose his soul if he does; his absolute restraint puts him in the position of the superego, while Spike at first clearly expresses the id. And of course, their names correspond to these functions. As for Riley, only in Buffy's dream does he make the sun go down, does he access the unconscious in his relationship with her; as Spike tells him, Buffy wants some "monster in her man" ("Into the Woods," 5010), and Riley does not have that in him.

[7]As for Buffy herself, as Spike notes, "The sun sets, and she appears." The Slayer, who fights the forces of darkness, is, like the vampires, a liminal character, on the edge between light and dark. To fight for the light, she must move through the darkness; and, after her dream encounter with the first of all Slayers and her actual encounter with Dracula, she agrees that, as they say, her "power is rooted in darkness" ("Buffy vs. Dracula," 5001)—i.e., her connection to the unconscious. In the context of the musical episode in which Spike says "the sun sets, and she appears," we are also aware of the fact that he means she has come to him again (though at this point their relationship is not actively sexual); in her unhappy state after her own return from death, she is drawn to his darkness. In sum, at this stage Buffy's desire for Spike and her desire for death are equivalent.

[8]What are we to make, then, of the last epigraph—Spike's declaration that "Every night I save you"? It contains at least two thematically important points. The most literal and obvious, paradoxically, contradicts the direct statement, because Spike does not save Buffy. The context is this: He makes the statement in "After Life," the third hour of the sixth season. At the end of the fifth season, Buffy had sacrificed her life to save the world and her sister in particular. In spite of the efforts of her friends the Scooby Gang (including Spike), a wound has been opened in the world, which Buffy has healed with her own body. Her sister Dawn (another of the significantly named characters) has been chained to the top of a giant tower (Is there a Freudian in the house?) at which the opening is located, and into which Buffy flings herself. Despite Dawn's offer, Buffy will not allow her fourteen-year-old sister to take that plunge. The only other member of the Scooby Gang we ever see at the top of that tower is Spike, who has promised to protect Dawn and is flung down hundreds of feet to the ground, the fall of the white-haired vampire recalling the fall of Lucifer. The entire scene, with the tower and the glowing opening, can be seen as a Freudian representation of sexual joining. And Spike does come close to joining Buffy there, but he is not quite ready, not quite worthy; when she falls, she falls into the light; when he falls, he falls into the earth (literally, almost into the cracks of earthquake, though he pulls himself back just in time).

[9]One hundred and forty-seven days pass (the precise figure is of Spike's providing), and Willow, Xander, Tara, and Anya cast a spell which brings Buffy back: they fear that, like Angel in similar circumstances, she has been suffering in a hell dimension, and indeed she seems withdrawn and unresponsive. She goes to visit Spike in his crypt, pausing on the way in front of a funerary angel statue which creates a visual of Buffy outlined by wings. Spike, in the lower level of his crypt, smashes his hand against the rocks as he thinks of her: he knows Buffy has smashed her hand as she "clawed her way out of her coffin," emphasizing again the mirroring of the vampire and this Slayer ("Done it myself," he says). These two are both emotionally wounded, and when Spike emerges from below to find her in the upper level of his crypt, they each acknowledge the other's wound. Then he begins a more formal speech. In "After Life," Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters perform what I call "mutual soliloquies"—each delivers to the other a speech which is in effect (in terms of both length and revelatory content) a soliloquy, while the other actor silently responds. It is an acting challenge which few could meet with the extraordinary skill of Gellar and Marsters. Gellar's responses are muted because of Buffy's condition, which we only know for certain by the end of the episode after the second "mutual soliloquy" in which Buffy informs Spike that she thinks she was in heaven, and was "torn out" by her friends. But for now we hear Spike's confession:

Uh—I do remember what I said. The promise. To protect her [Dawn]. If I'd 'a' done that, even if I didn't make it, you wouldn't have had to jump. But I want you to know I did save you—not when it counted, of course, but after that. Every night after that. I'd see it all again. I'd do something different—faster, more clever, you know. Dozens of times, lots of different ways. Every night I save you.

[10]Of course literally, as he is very unhappily confessing, Spike does not save Buffy. I can remember, after the second season of The X-Files, actually counting up the times Scully rescued Mulder, and vice versa (and at that point they were actually about even). Buffy is never the passive recipient of rescue by a solitary male. Sometimes males help her, or participate in a group effort, as Angel and Xander do in "Halloween" (2006) or "Reptile Boy," or as Spike himself does in "Family" (5006) (unseen) or "Blood Ties" (5013); but Buffy is never simply rescued by a solo male hero. [1] In fact, as many viewers know, she began her existence as a reversal of the stereotype of the little woman in need of saving. It is thematically positive that Spike does not literally save Buffy. But listen again to his words: "Every night I save you." For this line's second thematically important point, we must return to the underlying pattern of Buffy's relation to the night, the unconscious, the id, the shadow, or the animus. The hero must embrace this darkness to become truly strong—to save herself; and as the sixth season proceeds, Buffy embraces Spike.

[11]Even before her death, Buffy has been concerned about her deadening emotions. In the fifth season episode "Intervention" (5018), she says to Giles, "Maybe being the perfect Slayer means being too hard to love at all." At the beginning of the fifth season, she has asked Giles to help her investigate her roots in darkness; now he directs her to a quest during which she speaks with a Spirit Guide in the form of the First Slayer. Buffy asks if she's losing her ability to love—"not just boyfriend love"—and the Spirit Guide tells her: "Only if you reject it. Love is pain. And the Slayer forges strength from pain. Love—give—forgive—risk the pain—it is your nature. Love will bring you to your gift. [. . .] Death is your gift."

[12]This cryptic pronouncement has already been given one resolution, as Buffy realizes in the one hundredth episode, "The Gift" (5022), that she can give her life in place of Dawn's. With this essay's discussion in mind, however, I would like to propose another application, though the explanation may take some time. By the sixth season it is generally accepted that Spike actually loves Buffy; his actions at the time of and after her death—a time when he, unlike the other Scoobies, was not planning for her return—show that he has not been motivated simply by lust; and in "Dead Things" 6013), the wise Tara tells Buffy, "He does love you." Buffy, however, repeatedly rejects this belief. In episode after episode, she says that, as a soulless vampire, he cannot feel anything. And in this view, of course, she projects her own emotional deadness. Especially after her literal return from the dead, she has felt emotionally detached. In the musical episode "Once More, with Feeling" (and note the last word of the title), just before she and Spike engage in their first romantic kiss (which closes the episode), she sings, "This isn't real, but I just want to feel"—whereas he sings, "I died so many years ago; you can make me feel as though it isn't so." It should be noted that the device of the episode is that a magic spell makes the characters sing their innermost feelings.

[13]Many critics (including me) who have discussed Faith's doubling of Buffy have cited the scene in which Faith has possessed Buffy's body and, in the shape of Buffy, batters the body of Faith, calling herself "disgusting, murderous" ("Who Are You?" 4016). It is a powerful image of self-hatred. In "Dead Things," the scene is recapitulated with Buffy's other double, Spike. Again we see Buffy above, battering the figure that represents the hated quality—in this case, Spike. Why does she strike him until his face looks almost as damaged as it did after Glory tortured him? Because, in trying to save her, he has insisted that he loves her, whereas she says (punctuating the words with punches), "You don't have a soul—[. . .] you're dead inside—you can't feel anything real." And yet at the end of this episode, Buffy is telling Tara that the only time she feels anything is when she is with Spike; and she sobs to her friend that Tara must not forgive her.

[14]As the Spirit Guide says, Buffy does need to forgive; she needs to forgive herself; she needs to forgive Spike, and the side of herself represented by him; as the Guide says, she needs to "risk the pain." In "Hell's Bells" (6016), the episode of Xander and Anya's failed wedding, a meddling demon comments, "Sometimes two people—all they bring each other is pain," just as we cut to a scene of Buffy and Spike meeting. In the preceding episode, she has broken off their torrid affair with the words, "I'm sorry, William"; with the use of his human name, there is an implicit (and rare) acknowledgment of that other self in him. At the wedding, both of them are pained by their meeting; but the two are so genuinely kind to each other that there is as much caritas as eros in the scene. "Not just boyfriend love," indeed.

[15]While I thoroughly enjoy observation, when it comes to Buffy I am not good at speculation. I will suggest, however, that despite the months of a passionately sexual affair and despite the apparent resolution of the kindness of the scene in "Hell's Bells," Buffy has not fully recognized her darker aspect; Buffy has not fully embraced her Spike. She cannot accept the possibility that he could change. In her essay on "The Undemonization of Supporting Characters in Buffy," Mary Alice Money expands on a comment by Golden and Holder to define the ability to change and to feel as the primary criteria for humanity. Buffy is barely beginning to conceive of the possibility of darker, even demonic elements in herself (see, e.g., "Restless"); and it may be even harder to contemplate the possibility of humanity in Spike; what would the implications be for her work as Slayer? Spike's is a metaphysically interesting case because of the difficulties it poses. As many critics have noted, Buffy is important in part because of the increasing moral complexity of its universe. The character Angel clearly contributed to the building of that complexity by being a vampire capable of good. However, since Angel is good because he possesses a soul, he still represents an essentialist definition of good. Spike owns no human soul, yet repeatedly does good; if he can be seen as capable of change, capable of good, capable of love, then he can represent an existentialist definition of good. The chip which prevents him from harming humans can be paralleled to psychiatric medications which allow sufferers a respite and the chance to work through their psychological issues. The subsequent change is thus not simply physiological.

[16]The change may be indicated in part by the metaphor of light and dark in the series. Just as coming to know the night within herself may help to save Buffy, so too Spike may need to come into the light of day. In "After Life," just before she confesses to Spike (and only to Spike) that she thinks she has been in heaven, Buffy comments with surprise on his being out in the "daylight" yet, as he says, "not on fire? Sun's low enough; it's shady enough here." Along with this serious scene, there are many comedic instances (beginning as early as the fifth season) when Spike bundles himself up  under a blanket in order to be near Buffy--and hence in the daylight. "Normal Again" (6017) provides another serious moment illuminated by light imagery: As Spike advises Buffy to "Let yourself live, already" and announces that he will tell her friends about them if she does not, he steps towards her but flinches and physically recoils: he has moved directly into the sunlight, and that is something he is not able to withstand. The expression on his face recalls his reaction to pain from the chip. He says that if her friends won't accept her having a relationship with him, Buffy can join him in the dark. However, the room in which he stands is actually lighter than the place he occupies in "After Life." As Buffy rests in the sunlight, he is unable to reach her, but he has tried--and it seems he is closer than he once would have been.[2] Not only such imagery, but words and actions in other scenes also suggest some degree of change.  In "Hell's Bell's," when Buffy tells him that it hurts to see him with a woman they both know he has brought to the wedding solely to make Buffy jealous, his first, unthinking response is to say "I'm sorry"; then corrects himself to say "or—good." When (in "Smashed," 6009) he believes his chip has completely stopped working (before discovering that it has stopped reacting to Buffy alone among humans,[3] he goes hunting for a human to eat; but when he chooses one, he seems to have to talk himself into the vampiric act, with a diatribe of some length in front of the intended victim. With remarks like, "Just 'cause [Buffy's] confused about where she fits in, I'm supposed to be too? 'Cause I'm not," he seems to protest too much. He appears intent on convincing himself that "I'm evil," yet he also delays the vampiric attack: "I know what I am. I'm dangerous. I'm evil. [. . .] I am a killer. That's what I do. I kill. And yeah—maybe it's been a long time. But it's not like you forget how. You just do it. And now I can again—all right? So here goes." In the end, he almost apologizes to the intended victim: "This might hurt a little." In the next episode, "Wrecked" (6010), he goes with Buffy to locate the floating hideout of a master of dark magic, Rack, to which Will has taken Dawn. Rack's place, Spike explains, can only be sensed by witches, vampires, and others "into the Big Bad." Interestingly enough, Spike never finds the hideout; he complains that Buffy is interrupting him too much; and after searching for some time, they simply hear Dawn scream. Why is it so hard for Spike to find Rack's place? Could it be that Buffy is affecting him—that he is no longer so deeply "into the Big Bad"?

[17]It is also worth noting that Buffy and Spike do not make love until they discover that he can physically harm her—and though they do engage in their usual violent "dance" ("That's all we've ever done," he tells her in "Fool for Love"), he never really hurts her. One might certainly argue that she is drawn to him all the more powerfully because of the literal danger of death; "Every Slayer has a death wish." But one might also suggest that that there is an unacknowledged trust between them (as indeed Spike argues in "Tabula Rasa," though Buffy denies the idea in "Dead Things"). In any case, these two characters, who could have killed each other and have each literally died, die in each other's arms only metaphorically.

[18]John Donne would have enjoyed them. Donne was said to be ruined by his marriage to a woman above him; only after years of struggle and difficulty and, finally, conversion, did he emerge as the preacher who reminded us that "no man is an island" ( a prime theorem in the Buffyverse)—and that the bell of death "tolls for thee," tolls for us all. Buffy and Spike, who have each physically died, have access to the unconscious, and their love-making is powerful—but sex and death are not enough. Spike tells Buffy that he knows her, that she is like him—and he is right; he knows her dark side in both its strengths and weaknesses. But he does not know all of her; and even more significantly, he does not know all of himself, any more than she knows all of him or of herself. Whether or not there is backsliding or a slow, straight climb up, I expect to see more from both Spike and Buffy. The quest for self-knowledge is part of life and growth; as Joss Whedon says, "I think of Buffy as life [. . .] Life doesn't stop [. . .] We're always changing and growing" (Kaveney cover). And as Ursula K. Le Guin says, "the shadow is the guide [. . .] of the journey of self-knowledge, to adulthood, to the light. 'Lucifer' means the one who carries the light" (61). To the degree that we can live with the failure, face the darkness, and risk the pain, then we can find hope, faith, and maybe even love in the words, "Every night I save you."

Works Cited

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. 2nd ed. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1968.

Dekelb-Rittenhouse, Diane. "Sex and the Single Vampire: The Evolution of the Vampire Lothario and Its Representation in Buffy." Wilcox and Lavery, 143-52.

Donne, John. "The Canonization." The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne & the Complete Poetry of William Blake. New York: The Modern Library, 1941. 8-9.

Golden, Christopher, and Nancy Holder. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Watcher's Guide. Vol. 1. New York: Pocket, 1998.

Jung, C. G. The Portable Jung. Trans. R.F.C. Hull. Ed., introd. Joseph Campbell. New York: Penguin, 1976.

Kaveney, Roz. "'She Saved the World. A Lot': An Introduction to the Themes and Structures of Buffy and Angel." Reading the Vampire Slayer: An Unofficial Critical Companion to Buffy and Angel. Ed. Roz Kaveney. London: Tauris; New York: St. Martin's, 2001. 1-36.

Keller, Donald. "Spirit Guides and Shadow Selves: From the Dream Life of Buffy (and Faith)." Wilcox and Lavery, 165-77.

Krzywinska, Tanya. "Hubble-Bubble, Herbs, and Grimoires: Magic, Manichaeanism, and Witchcraft in Buffy." Wilcox and Lavery, 178-94.

Le Guin, Ursula K. "The Child and the Shadow." The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction. Rev. ed. London: Women's Press, 1989. 54-67.

Money, Mary Alice. "The Undemonization of Supporting Characters in Buffy." Wilcox and Lavery, 98-107.

Nurss, Delores J. "Spike as Shadow." Fists and Fangs. 2001. <http://ficbitch.com/fistsandfangs/spikeasshadow.html>.

Turner, Victor. "Liminality and the Performative Genres." Rite, Drama, Festival, Spectacle: Rehearsals Toward a Theory of Cultural Performance. Ed. John J. McAloon. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1984. 18-24.

Wilcox, Rhonda V. "'There Will Never Be a "Very Special" Buffy': Buffy and the Monsters of Teen Life." Journal of Popular Film and Television 27.2 (1999): 16-23. Republished in Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 1.2 (2001). < www.slayage.tv >.

___. "'Who Died and Made Her the Boss?': Patterns of Mortality in Buffy." Wilcox and Lavery, 3-17.

Wilcox, Rhonda V., and David Lavery. Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

For episode documentation, see Wilcox and Lavery.


[1] In “Prophecy Girl,” Angel and Xander work together to first find (Angel) then breathe life into (Xander) Buffy. In "Angel," Angel stakes Darla; in "Fool for Love," Riley intervenes when Buffy has been stabbed; but in these and similar cases, Buffy is certainly in on the fight and might have succeeded in the end without help. Cf. Spike in "Intervention," as he allows himself to sink down in the elevator only after he knows Buffy has arrived to fight Glory's minions; he had previously prepared himself to go on fighting alone.

[2] The preceding material in paragraph 16 was revised April 28, 2002. The following passage originally appeared at this point in the essay. Thanks to Dawn Heinecken and Susan Wright for pointing out to me the fact that Spike was flinching from the sun.

In "Normal Again," when Spike confronts Buffy about their relationship, he physically recoils as he is about to hurt her emotionally, the gesture recalling his standard reaction to pain from the chip. Yet attentive viewers know that his chip no longer reacts to Buffy (as he and Buffy discovered just prior to their first lovemaking); therefore his flinching without chip-stimulus suggests that he has internalized the response to causing pain. Furthermore, he is reacting to the thought of causing not just physical but nonphysical, emotional pain. Other scenes also suggest some degree of change.

[3] In "Dead Things," Buffy asks Tara to find out if Buffy has "come back wrong" from her resurrection. The idea that she is "wrong," changed to be closer to evil, may have made it easier for Buffy and Spike to come together sexually. However, Tara says that while Buffy has undergone a slight physical change which apparently fools Spike's chip, she is still the same person. Thus Buffy must confront the fact that her reaction to Spike is something within her "normal" self. In “Normal Again” (6017), it is when Buffy is confronted by Spike about their relationship that, in apparent avoidance, she decides to throw away her medication (cf. Spike’s chip) and thus leave the “normal” Sunnydale Buffyverse to take asylum in the otherverse’s mental institution.