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Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Killer in Me

[Updated May 3, 2013]

The Killer In Me is, I think, a very good episode which could have been a great one and just misses. The basic concept is excellent and IMO Alyson Hannigan and Adam Busch both do great jobs. Part of my disappointment is that some of the Spike scenes are played almost as slapstick. Part of it is my annoyance at the lame joke about touching Giles, which bothered me a lot the first time around but which I ignore on re-watch. I, uh, won’t touch the Giles story and instead will focus on the important ones, Spike and Willow.

Some people had a problem with the fact that the Initiative lab still existed, contrary to what the government official instructed, somewhat contradictorily, be done at the end of Primeval: “The Initiative itself will be filled in with concrete. Burn it down, gentlemen.  Burn it down, and salt the Earth.” My view is that the failure to follow through is all too typical of government and not a retcon. In any case, it makes for a nice metaphor of Buffy and Spike stumbling around in the dark to find a solution to Spike’s chip/soul nature.
Buffy’s decision about the chip would seem to be easy after her “I believe in you” speech. It’s hard to show that belief by denying someone free will. Still, Buffy’s a protector too and the chip may be necessary if Spike gets triggered again. One thing is clear: Spike can’t make any real progress on his journey as long as the chip is there. The chip was Spike’s internal panopticon. His soul is his authentic self.  Removing the chip is essential to him accepting moral authority for his own actions, something he hasn’t yet done as we see from the teaser:
OK. But you've been fine. In close contact with the girls.
(looks at Buffy) With you by my side, yeah. You won't let me hurt one of them.

He fears the killer inside him, just as Willow does, and, for that matter, Andrew does.
If Buffy does decide to remove it, that puts Spike to a real test. For the past 3 years Buffy has to some extent protected him even when she probably shouldn’t have, because he was defenseless against everyone but her, and defenseless against her for much of the time. That won’t be true if the chip comes out, so the uncertainty about the continued presence of his “trigger” creates a risk for Spike as well as for those around Buffy and even Buffy herself – not of being attacked by Spike, but of having to stake someone she obviously cares for. The existence of the risk posed by the trigger means that Spike has one more step to take before he completes the journey which began in The Initiative.
In comments, local-max pointed out that we don’t see Riley, but this episode closes out his arc in a much better way than As You Were. The military leaves it up to Buffy to decide because Riley respects her choices.
Kennedy noticed that Willow always turned off the Moulin Rouge DVD after chapter 32. Chapter 32 ends with Christian and Satine singing their love, i.e., before Satine dies and Christian – who never moves on – writes of his “love that will live forever”. Similarly, Willow has stopped herself at the moment Tara died. The point of the episode is that Willow, unlike Christian, does need to move on.
Willow has two sources of guilt, namely killing Warren and letting Tara go. Both are triggered (word used advisedly) when she first kisses Kennedy. She was confused by Kennedy at first, then reluctant. To her surprise, I think, the evening at the Bronze actually went well. The kiss was awkward, but clearly Willow liked it and began to respond. Being Willow, though, her self-control never really lets go and her guilt took over. That’s the point at which she punishes herself (as we eventually learn). Willow should be able to move on from Tara, but fears that if she does that might mean that Tara’s really gone, that she’s living while Tara is dead:
Willow: No, she was never gone. She was with me. We should have been forever, and I— (cries) I let her be dead. She's really dead. (breaks down into tears) And I killed her.

The metaphor of turning into Warren and (nearly) re-enacting Tara’s murder perfectly expresses both forms of her guilt. Amy serves as Willow’s dark side. If you read them carefully, Amy’s first words to Willow tell us exactly what Willow is going through:
AMY: It took me a long time to really see myself. But I did. Because you know that's the crazy thing about hitting rock bottom, you get to relive all the crappy things you did.

The spell makes Willow “really see herself” as her guilty conscience sees her: as Warren. She “relives the crappy things she did” as Warren. Amy’s wording also fits Willow because Warren came to kill Buffy because she had exposed his weakness, and now Willow nearly kills Kennedy for exposing hers.
Amy pretends to try to help Willow, but the words of the spell Amy recites are ambiguous: “Give back the form the soul requires. See that the balance is set right.” The first sentence could call for Willow’s restoration, but in the context of Willow’s guilt and internal desire to be punished, it could also reinforce Warren’s presence. I see it as the latter – Amy used the spell to amplify the effect of her hex. We can also see this metaphorically as Willow’s dark side reinforcing her punishment.
The second sentence would have meant one thing to Willow, but something much different to Warren. Willow's first Warren-like behavior came immediately after Amy performed her spell in the presence of the coven. Before then, all we saw was Willow's personality in Warren's body. Amy's second spell contributed to the emergence of Warren and set “him” on a path to “set things right” from his warped perspective.
Amy, speaking both as character and as metaphor, then gives us further insight into Willow’s internal guilt when she tells Kennedy “It’s about power. Willow always had all the power, long before she even knew what to do with it. Just came so easy for her. The rest of us—we had to work twice as hard to be half as good. But no one cares about how hard you work. They just care about cute, sweet Willow. They don't know how weak she is. She gave in to evil—stuff worse than I can even imagine— She almost destroyed the world! And yet everyone keeps on loving her?”
Willow, of course, is Buffy’s metaphorical spirit, so if what Amy says is true of Willow – and it is to some degree, or at least true of how Willow sees herself – then the same holds true for Buffy. If you hear Amy’s words as Willow speaking of herself, then except for the part about destroying the world, it’s substantially similar to how Buffy described herself to Webs in CWDP: “I have all this power. I didn't ask for it. I don't deserve it. It's like... I wanted to be punished. I wanted to hurt like I thought I deserved.”
It’s important, though, to keep in mind that the whole point of S7 is to question the idea of “power”. What Amy’s talking about is one form of power, but it’s not the only one. The question is whether Willow, and therefore Buffy, will find a different way to exercise power.
Willow, by the way, was right about the spell in the first place:
Maybe, but I probably brought it on myself.
What makes you think that?
Well, it wouldn't be the first time. I have a history with my witchy subconscious making things go kerfloopey. Remember the wacky "I can't see you, you can't see me" spell?

That’s exactly what Amy’s spell did, as she explained to Kennedy later:
AMY: The hex I cast lets the victim's subconscious pick the form of their punishment. It's always better than anything I can come up with.”

In my reading, Amy deliberately let slip the fact that she had “put a hex on her”. The ending of the episode essentially requires that Amy send Kennedy into Buffy's backyard (of course, the plan must have been that Willow would actually kill Kennedy). Amy couldn't have known in advance what the trigger was for Willow to feel the need for penance, because she set the spell up to let Willow's subconscious choose the punishment. Nor, for the same reason, could she have known in advance what form the punishment would take. Once she saw that Willow had turned into Warren, the first piece of the puzzle was in place. Amy then needed information about the trigger in order to take full advantage of Willow/Warren, and could only get it from Kennedy. My assumption is, therefore, that she let the secret slip on purpose to discover if Kennedy was the one who should be sent to serve as the intended victim.
This episode seems to have marked the beginning of the dislike for Kennedy that’s so widespread on the internet. Her aggressive flirtation with Willow doesn’t bother me, any more than Tara’s original extreme passivity did. Both were just ways for the writers to address Willow’s situation at the respective times in a reasonable way. Joss:
“Kennedy is … a bit of a brat. What I wanted was an anti-Tara. I wanted somebody who was as different from Tara as possible. Tara was very reticent, and she was somebody that Willow caused to blossom. What I wanted was somebody who was further on down in dealing with her sexuality than Willow ever was. Somebody who was totally confident, who was totally not earthy-crunchy, who was a completely different person. What I wanted to explore was the concept of Willow moving on. We did that with the first kiss, that turned her into Warren. … the things that Willow has to deal with emotionally, her fear of her power and stuff, and Kennedy's kind of involvement in that. That's what Kennedy was for.”

In the current situation, Willow was not so much rejecting Kennedy’s previous flirtations, she was letting her guilt prevent her from moving on, from living. Plus, I like that Kennedy could be depicted as openly sexual and gay, and the fact that Kennedy cares nothing for the magic means that Willow can be sure Kennedy’s attracted to her alone (compare Willow’s fear at the end of Wrecked that Tara only loved her because she was superpowered).
Kennedy also gets real credit from me because, despite the danger, the second kiss was purely compassionate, not sexual like the first one presumably was. It’s that expression of compassion which brings Willow back, and it demonstrated that she understood that Willow needed someone to recognize her emotions.  The kiss symbolically seals Willow’s decision to forgive herself and move on. And if you think about it, so does the tea – it’s sexual when Buffy jokes about it, comforting when Kennedy offers it at the end. I mentioned in my post on Beneath You that Joss said he wanted to explore forgiveness in S7, and TKiM is another example of that.
Trivia notes: (1) I loved Buffy’s description of her experience in Intervention when telling the Potentials about the Vision Quest. (2) As is always the case on the show, the song at the Bronze fits the scene. The words we hear as we pan over to Willow and Kennedy are “So I can be happy again….” (3) The better word for “lesbidar” is, of course, “gaydar”. (4) As Spike suggests, nobody can use the phrase “who you gonna call” because that line was used in the movie Ghostbusters. (5) Kennedy says she likes “skate punk, Robert Parker mysteries”, for which see the links. (6) All the scenes with Willow and Warren were shot twice, once with each actor. (7) Andrew mentioned “dancing schnauzers”, referring to a breed of dog. (6) Willow threatened to tell everyone about Xander’s “Aquaman Underoos”, referring to the comic book character and Xander’s underwear. (7) Andrew is waiting for the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a comic book series. (8) Andrew spoke on the phone to Robson, who was the watcher we saw attacked by the Bringers in Sleeper. (9) Willow mentioned the Wiccan group’s “bake sale phase”. That was the discussion the first time we saw them in Hush. (10) Andrew wanted to play the game “Ghost”, for which see the link. The name of the game probably references the First and their concerns about Giles. (11) Andrew suggested the license plate game as an alternative. (12) Amy first appeared 132 episodes ago, and now we see that she’s pretty much turned into her mother. It’s pretty remarkable when you think about how they’ve managed to use characters like her and Jonathan even stretching back to S1. (13) Willow’s first two sentences and her posture with the gun as she entered Buffy’s back yard were the same as Warren’s in Seeing Red.


  1. I have to say, I REALLY don't get what everyone hates about the Giles plotline. I was on the edge of my seat, had been since he'd first showed back up with the Potentials. So I appreciated the resolution to that mystery.

    The thing I disliked about Killow, is not Kennedy's aggression, it was more of just the assumption of there are two lesbians, they must get together. But this story couldn't have been told without a love interest for Willow, so I get why there had to be one. Maybe I would have liked it better, if they had only dated, and then broke it off after a few eps, appreciating the healing Kennedy brought but not setting her up as the next love of Willow's life.

    It was upsetting that Amy eventually turned into the same monster that her mother was, but at the same time this was telegraphed early on. Immediately after Katherine disappears, Amy goes to live with her father, who from the way Amy talks about him, is a pretty permissive parent. I think going from the authoritarianism of Katherine to no boundaries Dad, gave her the room to develop that way. Then in S2 you discover that she is using witchcraft. Now in S3, when she is shown to be practicing with Willow, I think we are supposed to feel comforted, but knowing how dark Willow can go in the future, doesn't give you that comfort later. And then, she turns into a rat, and is forgotten about, for the most part. So, bitterness is easy to understand too.

    The reveal here that Amy is doing some really bad things, makes me go back and examine her behavior in S6, and in many ways her behavior can be read as deliberate attempts to get Willow in trouble, which fits if she is very angry that she was left to rot in a rat's body for three years.

    1. We were all right there with you in speculating about Giles. It was a big topic of discussion, with people arguing about what qualified as "touching" something. I think it was exactly the fact that it was such a debate that led to the payoff being perceived as lame. Depends on whether you like shaggy dog stories, maybe.

      I think I'm the only Buffy fan in the whole world who likes Kennedy, but I do. She will piss me off in a few episodes, but I don't have any overall problem. That said, I don't see her as Willow's OTL. More of a rebound girl. But just fine for that.

      As for Amy, I think she could have gone either way. I think the events of Gingerbread traumatized her, and, rightly or wrongly, she does blame Willow for leaving her ratted for so long. Also, of course, there's the metaphor....

  2. FWIW, my dislike for Kennedy has little to do with her relationship with Willow. She serves an important function as Willow's rebound, as you pointed out above, and I think it plays out really well (thanks mainly to AH's acting, per usual). Rather, Kennedy's arrogance and assumed leadership within the Potentials are both grating and never adequately addressed. Even with Faith, we have always seen the Slayer role and the *power* that comes with it as a mantle to be worn with cautious pride that acknowledges its value and slippery slope as immense power, but no one - not even Faith - has welcomed their Slayer identity without question as Kennedy does. Kennedy's hunger for this power and thirst for violence are both off-putting to the audience and misaligned with the attitude and responsibilities of the Slayer (and other heroes) shown throughout the Buffy universe. It just doesn't tonally jive and is never addressed satisfactorily for me.

    Then there are the class issues Kennedy's brings to the show that they completely drop the ball on... but that is a whole other soapbox.

    1. Yeah, I can see that Kennedy's enthusiasm for Slaying could come across as somewhere between naive and obnoxious (and we're about to see that in a major way, of course). I think that's consistent with her otherwise sheltered life -- she lacks the real world experience of someone who's actually been a Slayer. The job may seem glamorous, but only if you don't realize what risking your life every night really entails.

      When George Washington was very young, he wrote a letter in which he made a silly comment about how exciting it was to have bullets whizzing by your ear in combat. When George III was told of the letter, he replied to the effect that Washington couldn't have much experience in combat and or he wouldn't say that. Kennedy shows that same lack of judgment. But Washington grew out of it and maybe she will too.


      I think Kennedy is another instance of the general metaphor that the potentials represent those who are not yet empowered. Kennedy wants the power she deserves, and maybe glorifies it in an annoying way. But how can we expect her to have a realistic view of what being the Slayer is actually like if she's never had any experience in that role? So in my view, this is adequately resolved in the season finale when she is empowered and becomes a Slayer, along with the other potentials.

    3. Agreed. And hopefully learns some humility along the way.

  3. Not to use hipster phrasing, but I actually disliked Kennedy from her very first episode. Her entitled manner pissed me off, but I also don't think much of the actress in terms of range or honesty in performance, so that actually makes me dislike characters as a result (for instance, my dislike for Dawn or Glory stemmed from my dislike of the actresses).

    Your post made me realize just what a sizable journey Amy had, largely offscreen, and it's fascinating, especially including her arc in the comics as well. Poor Amy. She'd have caused less trouble if we'd left her a rat.

    1. There's definitely an arrogance and sense of entitlement in Kennedy, and I think a lot of other people disliked that too. I don't remember seeing a huge amount of dislike for her online until TKiM, but it got more intense as S7 goes along, for obvious reasons.

      It's always hard to deal with a character when you don't like the actor. My friend shadowkat says that some actors/characters just push your buttons. She absolutely hated Robin Wood from the moment she first saw him. I've seen others say the same for Glory/CK, and of course Dawn/MT got plenty of hate in S6. There are actors I feel the same way about, but fortunately none on Buffy. It's a personal thing and the variety of reaction shows just how hard it is to reach an audience.

    2. I knew about the Kennedy fan hate in advance, but I was taking a wait-and-see attitude to make up my own mind about her. Since this is the first episode that really brings her to the foreground, I can confidently say "Nope, I'm not buying the relationship. Willow would HATE this girl."

      Kennedy's aggrsessiveness in pursuing Willow just seems like it would turn Willow right off. I don't know anything (yet) about Kennedy's background, but my sense is that, if she had grown up in Sunnydale, she would have been one of the mean girls laughing at Willow in her "Restless" dream.

      I can see where Joss is coming from in his conception of the character as the anti-Tara, but the problem is they failed to make the character warm in any way. How much of that is the actor's fault is hard to tell.

      I also knew about the Glory hate, but honestly, I liked that character a lot more than I expected to. It seemed to me that the writers asked "what if one of the girls from 'Sex and the City' went insane and became a god?" and the actress played that exact idea. Not the best Big Bad, but light years better than Adam IMHO.

    3. There will be a couple of points later which made some people like her a little better, but I think she remains one of the least-liked characters in the show.

  4. Your commentary helps me like this episode more than I would otherwise, but I still wouldn't call it 'very good.' I like a lot of the ideas behind it, but how it plays out, especially since there's supposed to be a very emotional climax, just doesn't work in my opinion.

    Also, I never understood why they continued to insist that Willow is gay and not bisexual (not to say there's only gay, straight, or bi, but you get what I mean). I think part of the reason I dislike Kennedy - aside from the fact her personality simply bugs me - is that, as Aeryl said, it felt like they put them together because they're both lesbians, and not out of any organic development. I appreciate that the writers created a very loving, genuine relationship with Willow and Tara during a time when that wasn't necessarily the norm on TV. However, I feel like they failed to acknowledge the fluidity of sexuality. Willow falling for Tara didn't invalidate her relationship with Oz or her previous feelings for Xander. In fact, she tells Oz, "I feel like some part of me will always be waiting for you" and in this episode she tells Kennedy, "And it wasn't women, it was woman. Just one." I really like that last line, but it bothers me that the show never acts like that's the case. Once Willow's with Tara suddenly she's only gay, can only possibly be interested in women. I get that this often lends itself to humor - Tara being jealous of Willow checking April out in IWMTLY, her "Well, hello, gay now!" in Triangle, and the "His physical presence has a penis!" in Him. And the humor works generally, but it all creates this idea that she either has to be straight or gay, and that bugs me a bit.

    Amy's journey on this show is sad, but I do appreciate that the writers give even small characters such interesting (and generally very organic) arcs. The two that come to mind as my favorite arcs are probably Jonathan Levinson and Anne Steele (I love that her arc spanned over both both BTVS and ATS, and that taking on Buffy's 'Anne' identity led her to a much better life).

    1. A friend of mine had exclusively male relationships until she was in her late '30s. One lasted 5 years, another was a marriage that lasted 2-3 years. In her late '30s she recognized what seemed obvious to the rest of us: she was gay. She's been in a relationship with a woman ever since (about 10-12 years). Maybe I'm overly influenced by this experience, but Willow's path seems normal enough to me.

      On the "one woman" line, I read that as Willow saying "I fell in love once, Tara was my soul mate, I'm not going to fall in love again". Kennedy seems to be ok with that, to be content with being rebound girl. But it's ambiguous enough to read it your way too, so I can't be certain.

      Good point about Anne. She definitely belongs in the same category as Jonathan and Amy, with the added benefit of not being evil.

    2. At the same time, Joss & Co, who were already feeling a lot of heat over Tara's death had to be hesitant to write Willow as interested in men again.

      Like I said, it never bothered me, I knew plenty of women who once they started dating women never stopped. And I know women who date both. To claim that Willow has to be bisexual, because of previous relationships with men, ignores the fact that LOTS of lesbians date men, for many reasons. My half sister's mother is a lesbian, and she loved and married my father(she also divorced him later). And she will adamantly state that she is NOT bisexual, Dad was special, and that's that.

      I don't know that the audience is supposed to see Tara as the fluke, not Oz, and if they were, people who championed the show for its progressivism, would have been legitimately upset.

    3. Oh, I'm not saying that Oz was a 'fluke' or Tara was a 'fluke,' or that Willow should have gone back to dating men after Tara passed. I hope you didn't misunderstand me. I just meant that sometimes I wondered why they didn't make her bisexual, and instead suggested that falling in love with Tara made her gay. But you're right, I suppose that was just her own path, and my dislike for Kennedy probably makes her post-Tara storyline a little less genuine to me.

    4. While Kennedy's acting isn't fabulous, I also wasn't too impressed by Amber Benson in season 4. I think Willow generates a lot of protective shipping for whoever she is with/wants to be with. For instance, Joss mentions in DVD commentary that there was a backlash against Oz, so he and the other writers wrote the scene in Innocence to win the audience over and stop shipping Willow/Xander.

      Then when Tara first came on the show, many fans were resistant to her. For me the turning point was Family. Up until then I felt about Tara the way the other Scoobies did: that she didn't really fit. After Family I really started to love her.

      In s7 we have Kennedy moving in, and people were upset again. Unfortunately Kennedy doesn't have several seasons to slowly develop a deep relationship with Willow and win everybody over the way Oz and Tara had. Maybe she never would have, but there wasn't really time to give her the opportunity.

    5. Fair point about the time to develop the relationship. Kennedy had essentially one scene to do it (here in the Bronze).

  5. RL has taken over and I've missed the chance to comment. But I have been keeping up with things and I really enjoyed this piece in particular. My one complaint about Willow/Kennedy in season seven is that I do wish in some ways that Willow's healing could have been tied in with her relationships with the main cast more strongly, especially Xander (as was suggested in "Help") and Buffy (as was suggested in "STSP"). I don't dislike Kennedy and even like Willow and Kennedy's relationship, which seems to me to be a healthy next step -- a kind of acknowledgment that it's possible to have a relationship that is not specifically aiming to be True Love is something that I think is very important for Willow, who's fallen so deeply into her relationships or crushes that she couldn't find her identity outside it, with devastating results. I miss interaction and healing between the main cast in season seven, though, which is probably my biggest complaint about the season, which is one of my least favourites but which gets an unfair rap.

    It isn't made explicit*, but I think that (and I don't mean that this is canon, it's just an interpretation of mine, and the text works fine without it) Willow blames herself for Tara's death, not just in the sense of blaming herself for not keeping Tara alive in her memory (as is the theme here) but for her death itself. Whether it's because she intuits that Tara's death is a consequence of the resurrection (a theory I have mixed feelings about), or because if Tara hadn't come to Willow she wouldn't have died, or the like. I think it's not something she consciously has guilt for, but it's something that I think underlies her great difficulty in letting her go -- it's her responsibility to keep Tara "alive" in her mind not just because she loves her and doesn't want her to be dead, but because she thinks deep down that it's her fault Tara is dead.

    *Well, the comics (SPOILER) come closer -- in "Anywhere But Here," Willow tells Kennedy that she does believe that Willow's decision to resurrect Buffy is the reason Tara died, though rather than framing it as a karmic price she states that she and Tara *could* have taken Dawn and moved away from the Hellmouth after Buffy's death, but Willow's need to bring Buffy back both prevented her from building a new life with Tara and, eventually, led to Tara, by staying with Willow, continuing to be in a figurative war zone where Warren shot Tara trying to shoot Buffy.

    In its own way, I think that the ending to this episode actually closes out Riley's arc for the series -- and does a better job of it than "As You Were" (which I don't dislike to the same extent that you or most fans do, but don't think does very well by him). Riley still left Buffy's world and went back to the military, but we see that he respects Buffy's choices when it comes to matters in Sunnydale (and still gets a shot in at Spike's expense with the "ass-face" gag). Since this is the ending to the Spike arc going back to season four, I think it's nice to see that Riley, too, is at the point where he is able to respect others' choices.

    1. I'm glad you have some time to comment again. Feel free to go back over old posts if you get the chance.

      I agree that Willow does blame herself for Tara's death, though I can't tell which of the reasons you suggest might be the one.

      Your point about the healing within the SG is a good one. Part of that, I think, is thematic: Buffy's isolation from everyone requires it. Part of it may be real world events: SMG and AH weren't getting along, NB was having life difficulties at the time.

      I really like your point about the closing of Riley's arc.

    2. Thanks! I will hopefully get the chance at some point, but I may not get to posting on older posts before you get to "Chosen."

      I'm not sure which reason is the one, either! I think Willow mostly has a vague sense of guilt that is pervasive and not necessarily rational.

      I agree that Buffy's isolation requires some of the SG separation. I'm not sure if there's a way around this. I did like the way the early episodes had some healing within the gang, and the way the intervening episodes have had some Buffy-Spike healing. Since there is some healing, I am tempted to say that there might have been a way to show *more* healing without undermining the isolation arc. But I can't exactly figure out how to do it.

      I knew about NB having personal problems this year, but I didn't know that SMG and AH weren't getting along. Do you have a source on that? I'd be interested.

      I like to think of Riley as a guy who mostly is changed for the better by his encounter with Buffy, even if he's not someone like Spike or Xander or whoever who actually sticks around to the end of the narrative.

    3. Agreed on Riley.

      I don't have a source (other than "I read it on the internet"). It seemed to be a common knowledge kind of thing at the time. When SMG announced that she wouldn't return for an 8th season, AH made a very harsh and very public criticism of her for failing to let the crew know before she went public. As I understood it, this was the culmination of a separation that had been building for some time. It's a shame, because they seemed to be very friendly in the early seasons.

  6. Addressing the Guilt: yes there is the importance of the "letting her go" theme throughout this episode, but, in my opinion, willow being the most complex and introspective character, she also felt an extreme guilt over the one thing that led to the radical change in the bverse story arc, in which one of the consequences is tara's death. all lines were altered and willow was propelled when she went after glory. that is when all glory had to do was follow the waining superdark that willow exuded while buffy took her back to campus. that simple act of selfish vengeance, (willow going after glory)led to all that followed. glory finds the key, buffy has to die, and later because buffy is not really noticing or reacting to the escalating problems around her, the trio gets away with much more than they would have otherwise. this of course leads to tara's death. which would never have happened, buffy would not have died (the second time), glory would have missed her window to find and use the key, if willow had not sought out glory in the first place.

    1. It certainly does all trace back to that moment, but I wonder if Willow sees it that way. Her more recent actions -- killing Warren and letting Tara go -- are front and center here, but it's entirely plausible that she blames herself for a lot more as well.

  7. ok, i re-watched the episode, and i think i was wrong. you are totally right about the warren and tara hurdles. i do believe that the third internal struggle was the all encompassing guilt. there is a better than even chance that she can still feel the pain of the world to some degree. but, i don't think that glory was tracking willow, or following her waning dark energy. when glory breaks into tara's dorm. it's daylight, and more importantly tara is there. she had to spend the night under observation. she was released in the morning. if glory were following willow, she would have found her in minutes. i now think it was the result of process of elimination. also, it is plausible that while looking for the key the minions complied basic information about the scoobies, like where they lived.

    1. Good points about how Glory found them. Willow may still feel some indirect responsibility for going after Glory, but she didn't lead Glory to them.