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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Ready or Not to Fight Evil ?

By Rachel Lovinger

Thursday 2 January 2003, by Webmaster

Is anyone in Sunnydale ready to fight evil? Rachel Lovinger reviews the key players and finds room for doubt about their intentions.FIGHT THE POWER Can Willow resist using her considerable skills for evil?

The battle between good and evil is ramping up again. Did I say ’’battle’’? I meant Ultimate Smackdown. But, as the showdown draws near in ’’Buffy’’’s latest episode (’’Bring on the Night’’), it’s becoming exceedingly difficult to tell who falls in which camp. So many ex-demons, ambiguous apparitions, and fallen heroes. To get ready for the end, it’s time to take stock of the crew and their affiliations.

Anya As a twice-reformed vengeance demon, she has the inside track on the demon world, and her fickleness indicates that she could flip-flop at any moment. But her recent soul-searching experiences land her pretty firmly on the side of the angels. Her take on ’’the original evil’’: ’’Please. How many times have I heard THAT line in my demon days?’’

Willow A powerful ally who knows she can’t use her power without running the risk of destroying everyone around her. Her trip to the dark side and her unshakable magic habit have left her highly susceptible to evil if she tries to use magic against the current threat. When things get really tough, will she be able to resist? Her fears are laid out this week when a simple locator spell violently backfires: ’’I don’t want to hurt anybody. Please, Buffy, don’t let it make me!’’

Principal Wood There’s more than circumstantial evidence that all is not right with the new head of Sunnydale High. But it’s not clear that he’s acting of his own volition. His creepy, subtext-ridden advice on movie choices: ’’Once you see true evil, it can have some serious afterburn, and then you can’t un-see what you saw...ever.’’

Joyce Is she an evil manifestation, or a guiding spirit? Throughout this episode, she tries to convince Buffy that evil is ’’natural,’’ which seems pretty damning. On the other hand, she has a point. How can you fight an underlying aspect of reality? Her argument: ’’Buffy, evil isn’t coming. It’s already here.’’

Andrew Lazy, frightened, and averse to further discomfort, he tries desperately to convince the Scooby Gang that he’s ready to redeem himself. Their response falls somewhere between disbelief and disregard — considering that he lacks any conviction whatsoever. Nobody can trust a teammate who’s ready to accept Buffy as his new leader merely because her hair is shiny and she probably won’t make him stab things. His take on where he stands: ’’I’m good again.’’ Buffy’s apt retort: ’’And when were you good before?’’

Giles First thought: Yeah! He’s not dead! But by the end of the episode, I’m wondering if he might be dead after all. When we last saw him, an ax was swinging straight for his head; maybe he was killed and now The First is taking on his form to infiltrate the troops. Sure, Giles seems to be trying to help Buffy and the gang, but he hasn’t done much. So far, his advice amounts to: ’’The First predates everything we’ve ever known. Or can know. It’s everywhere. It’s pure. I don’t even know if we can fight it.’’

Spike Everyone’s favorite bleach-blond vampire-with-a-soul continues to resist The First/Drusilla’s attempts to lure him back to the dark side. She employs the previously unnecessary technique of verbal coercion and the singularly pointless act of torturing a vampire by drowning (they don’t breathe!). Spike attributes his moral fortitude to Buffy’s belief that he’s capable of deserving his soul. His declaration of independence from The First: ’’Whatever you are, whatever you get away with, I’m out. You can’t pull this puppet’s strings anymore.’’

Buffy Yes, she’s the heroine, and it’s her calling to overcome evil. But this season’s many hints indicate that a victory might turn her into something even worse than whatever she defeats. Her declaration of war: ’’There’s only one thing on Earth more powerful than Evil. And that’s us. Any questions?’’ Here’s one: Ever heard the expression ’’Power corrupts’’?

My conclusion: With all these doubts about party affiliations, all the talk of the slayer lineage, and fears that one person — even a slayer — can’t possibly stop this threat alone, get ready for the return of one of Sunnydale’s favorite morally ambiguous power players: Faith. The OTHER ’’one and only’’ slayer. The one who currently holds the lineage. Because at this point, despite Buffy’s insistence to the contrary, it’s not just about power (Buffy and Willow both have that). It’s about how they use it. I’m not saying Faith will make better choices. Just different ones. She’s sure to shake things up even more, but at least we’ll see who’s left standing when the dust settles.

What do you think? Which character is most prepared to conquer evil?