[livejournal.com profile] lostboy_lj wrote about the Scythe and firefighting in his The Meta Arsenal: Stakes, Fangs and Other Symbolic Weaponry in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. I recommend the whole thing, but had a thought train based on this particular connection. He notes how the characters describe it as an axe, and the fact that it’s red.

The Scythe as a firefighter's axe makes me think of that Restless line, “I’m gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back." Buffy’s dream is of change, Slayers, and her experience being one - she always views it as isolating during the run of the show but fights that anyway, at first just to have friends and something normal in her life; she will be the one with the idea to finally change that isolation, the 'she alone' of the Slayer. Not just for her as the Slayer with friends and family*, but for all future Slayers who will be able to turn to each other.

Season five is when Buffy finally starts giving in to the idea of the lonely Slayer. She verbalizes it in Intervention, with her belief in it making her hard and unloving. The First Slayer refutes this, but she doesn’t really believe it through Weight of the World and The Gift, until discovering that she could sacrifice herself instead of Dawn. But it’s interesting that she only sees keeping her humanity as possible by dying. That the narrative only gives her those two choices: die or be a killer. Of course in season six she will be forced to live again, be a Slayer thanks to the violent world around her. She doesn’t think much of herself; part of her agrees with Spike**’s assessment of belonging in the dark with him, a killer like the creatures she slays. By season seven she will believe that she needs to cut herself off, starting with Anya and increasing when the Potential Slayers arrive.

The main conflict for Buffy – throughout the series – is that of connecting or existing in isolation. It culminates in season seven; Buffy needs to be strong, to protect the Potentials and make them strong, and she thinks strong is hard. Giles himself confirms this. Buffy rejects that attitude when it comes to Spike in particular (Lies My Parents Told Me), just as she is generally softer to people she cared about as individuals before this season***, but she adopts it wholeheartedly for the Potentials. This plays a large part in their eventual rejection of her: they don’t believe she cares – Xander needs to give them a speech about trusting her motives, right before she leads them in the failed attack that leads to her loss of leadership.
It stops with the Scythe. During End of Days, Buffy uses it to rescue Faith and the girls, and is accepted back into the house; when Amanda suggests that they were punished for choosing Faith over her, Buffy refutes the idea that she and she alone could have successfully avoided the trap. The conversation she has with Faith is about loneliness as the price of Slayerhood: Faith’s realization that Buffy was lonely even with friends and Buffy points out that Faith left her alone in the role. Buffy says the Scythe belongs to the Slayer, not just her – they will pass it to each other during Chosen. They both agree that only Slayers can understand what Slayerhood is. Loving people outside of that category is something, but it’s not enough.

So the plan is to bring them together. Through the Scythe, Buffy connects Slayers and ends the real curse of the Call – ‘she alone.’ Slayer status quo is changed as the Hellmouth is closed and the floods roll back, leaving Slayers all over the world to be a fighting force. Buffy being the Slayer is no longer placed in opposition to Buffy being with others.

*As lostboy-lj points out, the image of the firefighter’s axe was there in School Hard. When Joyce wielded one to protect Buffy from Spike, he protested that Slayers weren’t meant to have friends or family. Buffy will wield the Scythe to protect her figurative daughters, the Potential and future Slayers, before using it to unlock their power in a way that doesn’t require the sacrifice of the women before them.

** Lostboy-lj’s meta focuses on the Scythe/axe and Buffy with Spike, with a positive conclusion on how they help each other and their arcs fuse well together. I think Spike’s role as Buffy’s confidant turns out both good and bad for her, narrative-wise and as an in-universe person. He is at first the one who protests that Slayers should be alone. When Buffy tries to rely on him as the only friend she can be honest with after her resurrection, he pushes her away because of his own feelings. When she responds by giving him what he seems to want, he spends season six trying to further isolate Buffy and equate her to what she hunts. He does get his soul and become unconditionally supportive of her, which she needs. Her hardening to everyone else causes her spiral down. It’s not his fault, but Buffy does think and say ‘Spike is the only one who has my back.’ She depends on him too much. (And this is not an indictment of real world people like this. I can be like this. I mean Buffy and Buffy in her context specifically.) Spike helps her up and she uses that to reach her other people. She needs to find that connection with them too. I dislike that Buffy’s connection with the Slayers and her friends isn’t what saves the world, at least not in a decisive way. I think that undermines the message of freeing the Slayers and Buffy not cutting herself off. Spike being the one to close the Hellmouth while everyone else was essentially a stalling tactic – despite that they didn’t know and couldn’t expect how decisive the amulet would be – was not a good choice for executing the narrative of Buffy’s arc as the Slayer****. That’s all I want to say about Spike.

***Not completely, as will be seen in some harsh words later in the season.

**** I don’t even want to go into the use of a rape metaphor in the origin of the First Slayer. I can’t think of an alternative right now, but really, they could have had ‘old men deciding only one girl could have the power’ without a rape metaphor.
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