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06 February 2013 @ 12:57 pm
Poll time: Redemption!  
BUFFY: Life is a bunch of stuff that we choose to do. You're not a tragic hero. You're a guy who killed his friend. […] When a river of your blood pours out, Andrew, it might save the world. What do you think of that? Does it make you a world-saver? Does it buy it all back? Are you a hero redeemed?

— Talkin' about redemption in Storyteller

Seems like everybody's got a redemption arc on BtVS. We had a sprightly discussion about this a couple of episodes back, but the issue isn't even subtext anymore, it's right up there in the text! How important is it to make up for our mistakes? Can you ever?

Poll #1895009 Stumble and fall

Redemption in the Buffyverse: Is it necessary?

Necessary and possible.
Necessary? Yes. Possible? No.
Nobody gets a prize for goodness, succeed or fail.
The trying is its own reward.
I have other (better) thoughts about this.
gillo: Spike FFL washoutgillo on February 6th, 2013 09:37 pm (UTC)
The redemption lies in the trying - it can never be a finished thing, because there's always the risk that a wrong choice could lead to more catastrophe and need of more redemption. You keep on trying, even knowing you can't really win. That's not just the ultimate message of Angel, it is of Buffy too - look at Anya and Andrew in the hospital, for example. (OK, in a few episodes time, but the point is there.) Can Spike ever be redeemed? Can Willow atone for the veiny period? No, but the fact that they want to and put so much effort into trying to is what counts.
Rebcake: btvs_doomedrebcake on February 7th, 2013 06:07 pm (UTC)
When everybody needs redemption, what does that say? Maybe it's as simple as "humans will fall short". I don't know. The characters least in need of redemption, such as Tara and Joyce, don't get rewarded per se, unless the reward is not having to struggle through any longer, which seems a bit bleak, as rewards go. Though that was the reward that Buffy believed she'd been given.

AtS has a different spin on the question than BtVS, Though, as you say, the answer is likely the same. ;-)
zanthinegirl: Good Pointzanthinegirl on February 7th, 2013 08:38 am (UTC)
I think the "trying is it's own reward" thing is more blatant on Angel. I lean more to "Redemption is possible" on Buffy. But, as in Andrew's case (and IMO Spike is an even better example) you have to want to be redeemed. Even characters like Spike, or Andrew, or Faith can make the choice to change; it's one of the things that first drew me to Buffy in the first place. But want to be redeemed by itself isn't enough, they have to actually change their actions.

I wonder how much the answers to this poll differ based on religious background? I'm just curious!
Rebcake: btvs_trio_godsrebcake on February 7th, 2013 06:17 pm (UTC)
Well, the pagan-ish idea that you get back what you put out, threefold, fits the Buffyverse okay. If your actions or motivations are bad, you find that the company you keep isn't as trusting or supportive as they once were. If you try to do good for good reasons, you get to feel good about it, and those you value will perhaps make your life more pleasant. Simple things like that are a built-in reward system, though not as dramatic as life/death/peril. In AtS there seems to be the idea that an external forces decides when you've done enough, with BtVS the "rolling redemption" seems more internal and (dare I say?) organic.
spikesjojospikesjojo on February 7th, 2013 10:50 am (UTC)
It's the problem I have with the Shanshu - " the vampire will have his past washed clean"...no, all the lives ruined and destroyed will still have been ruined and destroyed. There is no way to wash that clean. In fact, once the shanshu came along and Angel was told he was going to be rewarded for his good deeds, it became a question as to whether doing something good for a promised reward is the same as doing good things for their own sake.

I'm not putting down Angel in any way, shape, or form. I'm talking about a decision made by Whedon. Yeah, at first it seemed like a good idea but after a while it becomes an end in and of itself.
Rebcake: ats_spangelrebcake on February 7th, 2013 06:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it seems odd that some outside entity can decide when you've been "good enough", especially when there is so much blood and pain on the ledger. It detracts from the reality that you and the people around you are the source of a rewarding or punishing existence. The more Angel looks for reinforcement for his choices from outside himself and his people, the less likely he is to actually get any, if that makes sense.
spikesjojospikesjojo on February 8th, 2013 12:53 am (UTC)
It makes perfect sense - if you look outside yourself for validation and approval then you give all your power away. It's Wesley that is big on the Shanshu - and I think it's Wesley that Angel looks to to make sure Angel is doing the right thing. Since Wesley is big on the Shanshu then Angel is big on the Shanshu but the whole prophecy tthing seen like a contrivance. Yeah - Watsonian here again - I do wonder why Angel would even want to be human, given that he turned down the last chance he had to be human - and took the memory away from Buffy.

I know that conflict and emotion are the basis of storytelling, but internal logic is as well. To work toward earning a prize is different than to work for personal redemption. I can understand the tragedy of knowing it wil never be enough - I prefer that to the banality of grabbing the golden ring on the merry-go-round.
Shapinglightshapinglight on February 7th, 2013 11:21 am (UTC)
I picked the trying is its own reward option, and now I don't think I made the right choice.

I should have chosen what you chose - necessary, but not possible. I do think it's necessary for characters like Spike and Angel to strive for redemption because they owe it to their victims. But I don't think they can ever actually be redeemed. Its a never ending process.

Okay, maybe I did make the right choice.
red_satin_dollred_satin_doll on February 7th, 2013 06:01 pm (UTC)
That's the choice I went for - and I have no idea if I was thinking more about BtVS or about RL, I suspect a mixture of the two. I guess there's the issue of "what is redemption?" what does that actually mean? I think beer_good_foamy covered a lot of that ground in a really good meta, and I can barely wrap my head around the subject
Shapinglightshapinglight on February 7th, 2013 09:42 pm (UTC)
That was a good meta, though I can't remember the exact details now, except that it was more why in general redemption stories don't work for him and that BtVS is an exception.

I should go and re-read it.
red_satin_dollred_satin_doll on February 7th, 2013 09:56 pm (UTC)
Rebcake: btvs_buffy_whateverrebcake on February 7th, 2013 07:00 pm (UTC)
Those two choices are awfully similar, in the end. As often happens with these things, reading the comments and further thought leads me to a different conclusion than I started with. I'm leaning toward a variation of "trying is it's own reward" which is that trying leads to the reward of a better existence while you're trying. By this I mean that evil actions, or actions taken with evil intent, pretty much guarantee that you will be surrounded by a) evil people whom you cannot trust to support you, or b) good people that do not trust you and will not support you.

If you ever hope to have a pleasant, satisfying existence under the rules of the Buffyverse (and even in RL) you NEED to have warm, supportive relationships with other people. To have that you have to try for being a good person. Without that, life or un-life is a vast wasteland.

The joie de vivre of evil vampires does not actually disprove my theory, I don't think. Their relationships are all shown to be built on sand, and any sense of satisfaction they might get from an evil act is never sustained. Their hunger for more is not unlike runaway consumerism. They can never do enough evil to be truly sated. They are putting their faith in something that can never give them true satisfaction. It's only when they turn their backs on evil and start to reach out to good people that they have a chance of real happiness.
Shapinglightshapinglight on February 7th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
I love your whole comment. It's wonderful. And so true. Spike and Dru love each other (arguably, so do Angelus and Darla - I think so anyway), but those relationships will always lack something, even if at the time they don't realise that, or know why.

Or is that a step too far?
Rebcake: btvs_drudarla_1888rebcake on February 7th, 2013 10:53 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's going too far. No honor among thieves, as it were. Love is only part of the equation for happiness. Darla, Angel, and Dru were all quick to drop their supposed beloveds when it suited them. Spike is always an anomaly, but I suspect that from Dru's perspective, he was being disloyal in his heart, which was enough for her.
Shapinglight: ecstatic drushapinglight on February 8th, 2013 12:05 pm (UTC)
but I suspect that from Dru's perspective, he was being disloyal in his heart, which was enough for her.

Yes, I agree, though unless his disloyalty dates from before the return of Angelus, she was disloyal first.

On the other hand, being Dru, she probably has a different perspective and sees the whole Slayer obsession (I'm reluctant to call it that, but so I fear it is - can I get away with saying sporadic slayer obsession?) as disloyalty.

So Spike's been disloyal to her since 1900.

Edited at 2013-02-08 12:07 pm (UTC)
Estepheia: Forget Me Notestepheia on February 7th, 2013 05:10 pm (UTC)
I love redemption arcs - and in storytelling it is necessary and should be achievable, if only sometimes. We all need hope that our mistakes don't doom us.
RL is a different matter. If someone murdered someone close to me I wouldn't find it in my heart to grant that person forgiveness.

I picked Nobody gets a prize, because that's how the world often seems to me, unfair, without an intelligence to reward or punish us. In an indifferent and unjust universe the trying HAS to be its own reward. Often it is, but sometimes it just isn't. :(
And sometimes you connect to the right people and the universe looks like a more cheerful place.

As you can see, I am dithering between opininions.
red_satin_dollred_satin_doll on February 7th, 2013 06:03 pm (UTC)
Ok, now I'm wondering if I picked the wrong option. *ponders*
Rebcake: btvs_spi_tearebcake on February 7th, 2013 06:39 pm (UTC)
In an indifferent and unjust universe the trying HAS to be its own reward. Often it is, but sometimes it just isn't. :(

Indeed. In BtVS it is often the good that die young, and unless the "reward" is an end to the struggle — which I suppose it could be, but that's not a happy thought — it's a clear sign that life is simply unfair.

And sometimes you connect to the right people and the universe looks like a more cheerful place.

Actually I'm starting to think that this is the key point of everything. In the Buffyverse, Hell is NOT Other People. The only truly good thing in life is your relationships, and if you make good choices, you will end up with the "right" ones. If you make bad choices, or do things for bad reasons, you risk alienating the only possible source of a rewarding existence — the people around you.

That said, I thought your line in "Broken English" — that a world without second chances isn't worth fighting for — is a beautiful encapsulation of the idea that the whole undertaking is a process, and that it's never really over.
Estepheia: James in Tampaestepheia on February 7th, 2013 07:29 pm (UTC)
What a lovely meta thread. That's why this is my OTF, my one true fandom. :)

Thank you, Rebcake. I love how you put this so succinctly:
"The only truly good thing in life is your relationships, and if you make good choices, you will end up with the "right" ones. If you make bad choices, or do things for bad reasons, you risk alienating the only possible source of a rewarding existence — the people around you."

That's it, in a nutshell.
That's also the underlying theme (or "overlying" theme) of Firefly. There's the overcivilized half of the universe, and then there's the savagery of the black, but Mal walks the razorbladethin path between them, and all he wants is to keep flying - with those he has allowed on board...

I love my Jossverse shows!
Rebcake: btvs_oz_whoarebcake on February 7th, 2013 11:01 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you are enjoying the thread. It is wonderful to be able to tease out these thoughts and see what people come up with. I've always had a problem with the magic-wand-wave type of redemption, which just isn't seated deeply enough in human behavior to be satisfying. It's a good catch that "Firefly" has a similar view of relationships (i.e. your chosen family).