by Audrey Brown
10 Times Buffy’s Strength Came From Her Words
and how you can use her words to help yourself
In Part One of “Buffy Summer’s Strength In Her Own Words: A Heroine’s Journey,” I looked at inspiring moments of dialogue. Words that reflected the Departure Phase of her Hero’s Journey. We watched Buffy wave a permanent goodbye to the Ordinary World and discover her potential.
Today in Part Two, I’ll highlight four moments that showcase the second phase of the Heroine’s Journey, the Initiation. This is where Buffy faces Tests and discovers her Enemies and Allies.
- “Faith, Hope and Trick” (Season 3, Episode 3)
In this episode, a new slayer came to town, Faith. She had a lot of trauma in her past. She carried guilt and shame. The writers were always very clever at forcing Buffy to say to others what she herself needed to hear. This typically lead to an epiphany.
Over the course of the series, Faith embodied many of the Archetypes found in the Hero’s Journey: Ally, Trickster and even Enemy. In this episode, her presence provided the means to test Buffy’s understanding of herself. Faith acted as a mirror. This reflection gives the heroine a chance to examine themselves before they face their biggest battles and spiral toward their true self.
Buffy helped Faith face her feelings about her unpleasant past. In turn, she learned to face her own and made a confession to her friends.
“She really came through in the end. She had a lot to deal with, but she did it. She got it behind her…Angel was cured. When I killed him, Angel was cured. Your spell worked at the last minute, Will. I was about to take him out and, um, something went through him. And he was Angel again. He didn’t remember anything that he’d done. He just held me. But it was too late and I had to. So I told him that I loved him and I kissed him and I killed him…I’ve been holding on to that for so long. Felt good to get it out.”
Moral of the story?
Our burdens are far heavier when we carry them alone. When we confess our difficulties and our feelings to friends and loved ones, they can help us.
- “Hush” (Season 4, Episode 10)
When the entire town of Sunnydale was robbed of their voices, Buffy hunted down the demons that stole them. Upon breaking their spell, Buffy used her voice in its simplest form. She screamed, long and loud. That was all it took to kill them.
Sometimes all you have to do is call attention to a situation and raise the alarm. There’s power in that. As we know all too well, many misdeeds are done in the dark. Bringing them to light? Sometimes that’s all we need to do. Expose.
- “Checkpoint” (Season 5, Episode 12)
In season 6, Buffy must fight a petulant demigod named Glory. She’s underequipped and by the end of the season, she’s exhausted. This is when the Watchers’ Council shows up, a stodgy group of bureaucrats who offer information on Glory. Information they will only provide after Buffy and her friends pass a series of rigorous tests. The Initiation phase prepares the heroine by testing her strengths and weaknesses. When Buffy gets tired of being put through her paces, she faces the council and says the following:
“There isn’t gonna be a review…no review. No interrogation. No questions you know I can’t answer. No hoops. No jumps. No interruptions. See, I’ve had a lot of people talking at me in the last few days. Everyone just lining up to tell me how unimportant I am and I’ve finally figured out why. Power. I have it. They don’t. This bothers them. Glory came to my home today…just to talk. She told me I’m a bug. I’m a flea. She could squash me in a second. Only she didn’t. She came into my home, and we talked. We had what in her warped brain probably passes for a civilized conversation.
Why? Because she needs something from me. Because I have power over her. You guys didn’t come all the way from England to determine whether I was good enough to be let back in. You came to beg me to let you back in. To give your jobs, your lives, some semblance of meaning. You’re Watchers. Without a Slayer… you’re pretty much just watching Masterpiece Theater. You can’t stop Glory. You can’t do anything with the information you have, except maybe publish it in the Everyone Thinks We’re Insanos Home Journal. So here’s how it’s gonna work. You’re gonna tell me everything you know. Then you’re gonna go away.”
You don’t have to believe everyone when they try to put you through your paces. Some people are genuinely trying to help you. Others? Your talent or intelligence might intimidate them. They may attempt to sabotage you or keep you distracted with conflict or busy work in order to take advantage of your strengths.
Learn to tell the difference between the people who are willing to teach and challenge you for your own good and the people who want to make you dance because they feel insecure. There’s a difference between helpers and users. Buffy figured it out, so can you. Trust your instincts.
- “The Gift” (Season 5, Episode 22)
A Hero’s Journey requires the heroine face death during an ordeal in the Supernatural World before she can start her return to the Ordinary World. When Buffy realized she needed to sacrifice herself to save the world from Glory, she gave her little sister Dawn a quick pep talk. The clock was ticking and there wasn’t much time, but Buffy’s monologue in this episode is one of the definitive speeches from TV history. It contains some very pure, potent universal life advice.
“You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live.”
Moral of the story?
I’m not crying, you are. Shut up.
In an upcoming third part, I will reveal how Buffy’s words illuminate the final phase of Buffy’s heroic journey: the Return.
Audrey (in her super-secret third-person) began writing professionally in 2007. She has her MA in creative writing and has sold two screenplays. Her work has appeared in magazines like Geek Monthly, on-air via public radio, and onscreen at the Los Angeles Comedy Festival. You can find her at AudreyWrites.com, BornForGeekdom.net and Twitter.
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