Buffy fans: how many times would you guess Willow screwed with Tara's memories?

I’m not gonna explain. f you’re a fan of the show and watched up to season 6 at least, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you didn’t watch the show, or haven’t seen season six, you probably don’t have an opinion.

Why am I bringing this up? Because the auto playlist thingie on my computer just played the relevant song from “The Bitter Suite.”

Poll in a moment.

Missed the edit window. Obviously I meant THE BITTER SUITE above. I mentioned the superior action-girl series musical by accident.

The fact that Willow had the tools for memory-wiping right at hand certainly suggets that Willow anticipated using them often, and didn’t attach much moral weight to it - that’s horrifying. But it doesn’t really constitute evidence that these tools were used often, and we have no evidence (within the show) that they were.

Joss et al clearly, unambiguously considered memory-wiping Tara to be a horrible thing - if they’d intended that we should think it was also a frequent thing, they’d have shown us that. I think Joss doesn’t think Tara was memory-wiped more often than depicted on-screen.

Of course, “the author is dead”, and it would certainly have been in character for Willow to use memory-wiping a lot. But as a story-telling device, I don’t think it matters whether Willow did it a lot or just a couple of times - either way, it establishes that Willow fundamentally doesn’t care about a loved one’s autonomy within her own head. The same point is made whether Willow wiped Tara once or a hundred times - and I don’t think Tara would be one whit less horrified if she could be credibly assured it had only happened once.

I never understood why Tara reconciled with Willow; in her position, the only thing keeping me from murdering Willow would have been fear.

Willow never did things for her own “sick amusement.” She was “seldom naughty”, at least in her own eyes. She was really really good at rationalizing things though. I wouldn’t put it past her to have done it to Tara more than we saw on screen.

Which is why I wrote guess in the thread title.

I have to disagree here, because I think Whedon is subtle enough to only imply it. As I wrote in the OP, the specific thing that prompted me to open this thread was hearing Amber Benson sing “Wish I could trust that it was just this once, but I must do what I must.” And that made me think, “Of course it wasn’t just once.” I’d say it had to be at least once time before then, since she’d have had to research the spell and gather the magic herb. Since she’s shown to perform said spell from memory the first time we see her do it, it’s got to be something she’s practiced.

So maybe not all the time, but at least thrice. (She does it again in the episode after the musical, remember, when she accidentally mindfucks the entire group.)

Established long ere that, but yes. I don’t think fundamentally understood that what she was doing was wrong.

I love Tara, but she was very needy and would have benefited from therapy.

I don’t think you’d have murdered Willow in her place, though, because of that fear. The power imbalance was just too great. Even before Willow went all mana-draining on Sunnydale’s magic population, she wasn’t just more powerful than Tara; she was MUCH more powerful. It would be like what’s-her-name, the little girl, challenging Buffy to a fistfight.

ETA: I do not know why I have twice written TBS when I meant “Once More With Feeling.” Somebody is fucking with my memories. :smiley:

Good points, on both counts. Your recollection of the season is better than mine - that particular lyric does suggest that Whedon meant for Tara, and the audience, to think this may have been an ongoing thing. And the fact Willow had it memorized is also pretty damning.

Agreed that I would opt for flight rather than murder, for the reasons you stated; Willow is just too scary to fight. (Which would frighten me more, I wonder? That I might be killed, or that I might be brain-raped again?)

We don’t have any reason to think it’s more than twice. Sure Willow had the ability to do it often, but she had the ability to do a lot of things. doesn’t mean she did them. As far as the song goes, maybe it means Willow did it a lot, or maybe it’s just Tara’s (entirely justified) paranoia.

In retrospect, I suspect that this behavior began following “Tough Love” (the episode in which Tara is assaulted by Glory). Following that episode (until “The Gift”) Willow is caring for a seriously mentally ill Tara, and likely picked up the habit of using magic as an aid in doing so (and thus kept materials around the house). At best, Willow did this only twice once Tara was again capable of caring for herself - but I doubt it. I’ll bet it happened at least a dozen times between “The Gift” and “Once More With Feeling” - particularly at stressful times, like when they were planning Buffy’s resurrection (which Tara would likely have objected to, if she were free of occult influence).

With the way she treated it as (in her mind) helping Tara to not have to deal with bad things or even just to avoid fights or unpleasant conversations, I would believe that she did it a number of times.

I don’t think Willow would have KILLED Tara; she would have had too hard a time rationalizing it. But she clearly intended to wipe her memories again–and of course she actually did.


I should have thought of that my ownself.

You’re right. That explains not merely why it would have occurred to her to research that particular bit of magic, but also how she justified doing it to Tara. She’d begin by doing it to keep Tara calm while she was mad; and after Tara was cured, Willow may have wanted to remove the more unpleasant memories of that time. I can imagine the insane Tara accidentally doing violence to Dawn, for instance, and feeling hugely guilty about it once she came back to herself.

[del]Some small[/del] [del]Some smallish[/del] Some part of Willow of undetermined scope may have been thinking, “I am generally more competent than Tara, as I am not a former crazy person” and “I took care of her for weeks while she was crazy as a Rhymer, she owes me.”

I’m not sure about your point re: the resurrection spell. Do you mean that, in that instance, Willow didn’t simply erase Tara’s memories, but actually changed her opinion about something?

Willy only used it at the times portrayed in the series. The show would have shown every time she used it, or at least referred to it happening more times.

Why do you think that?

The series only shows Willow & Tara having sex twice. Do you think those were the only occasions when it happened?

Praise from Skald is praise indeed…

Re the resurrection spell I’m thinking that Tara and Willow probably had some major arguments about it; if Willow interpreted Tara’s concerns as lingering anxiety from Glory’s mental attack, she might have used the spell to remove those anxieties, without fully acknowledging that she was changing Tara’s opinion (after all, just before the first time we see the spell being used, Tara’s opinion was that no sex was going to happen - but by removing the memory of their argument, Willow changed that opinion, not directly, but pretty effectively.

Thanks to the OP for this thread.

I definitely think Willow would have messed with/erased Tara’s memories more than what we saw on BTVS. Tara was so afraid of Willow using stronger and darker magic, as shown in season 5, right before Tara is abducted by Glory. Willow had to resort to strong magic to save Tara’s mind, despite what Tara might have felt. As we know, Tara’s opposition only escalated as Willow’s power grew, and as Willow’s power grew, she needed to control Tara more.

IMO if you go back to season 4, Willow had a taste of the mind altering ability in Something Blue and that is the moment, IMO, that she got hooked on the drug as a means of killing the pain from Oz leaving her, but in Willow’s pathology, it was all about the addiction, then the power that came from it, fuelled by more addiction to kill pain, and so on. So earlier than the Glory Days.

if it is possible to show how Willow regretted the multitude of times she either erased memories or altered them, perhaps her profound guilt and reluctance to use her powers in season 7 is evidence. In Conversations with Dead People, Cassie is able to manipulate Willows guilt so effectively, that it makes me wonder, Willow isn’t only grieving Tara’s death, she is deeply regretful for abusing her.

One of the overarching themes, IMO of season 7 is forgiveness. Without that, Willow is unable to continue with Kennedy and begin using magic safely again. For that she has to forgive herself for the unspeakable harm she inflicted on Tara.

IIRC, Tara was pretty much on board with the resurrection spell. Again, out of a sense of guilt for Buffy’s sacrifice, but without the awareness that Willow could soon be out of control. But you are right, Tough Love did show cracks in that armour.

I interpreted that line as emphasizing the ultimate betrayal of screwing with someone’s memory.

You can always weigh someone’s transgressions against their good qualities and choose to forgive them. Unless they have a way of modifying your memory, at which point you basically have to assume that they’ve done the worst thing imaginable to you, because there’s no way for you to know.

That said, I don’t think it happened often. I’m inclined to think it only happened the times we saw it. Tara was clued in to the fact that something was wrong when Dawn mentioned a fight she didn’t remember. Unless she wanted to erase memory of events that happened in private, it would be hard to modify just one person’s memory of an event and have no one else mention it.

Is it possible that Willow used this memory-erasing spell on someone besides Tara, like a demon, and that’s why she had it memorized? When the real Buffy was dead, the Scoobies were still living on the Hellmouth, and she may have used this type of magic as a weapon against the villains.

Which of course doesn’t justify using it on Tara, just that she may not have used it as often as we’re assuming.

Willow and Tara did use magics on vampires, as we saw in Bargaining, Pt. 1, but it backfired when the vampire got too aggressive (Tara thought it might have mixed with something the vampire had taken earlier. That was funny). They did this to compensate for not having Slayer strength, though, not as a means on its own. That was the vibe in the cold opening for the season. They were all missing Buffy, and 6 Scoobies could not possibly add up to one Slayer (well, 7, if you count Dawn, but I don’t think she became a Scoobie till Season 7)

I assume because, unlike having sex, showing her using her powers like that is important in showing how evil Willow was becoming. If she was casually using the spell so much that it couldn’t be shown (as they probably were with sex), she was already really far off the deep end by that point, and that’s important to the narrative.

I voted “Everyday and twice on Sundays” because I’m pretty sure she’d have had to do it more than the 3 times we see, it seemed like something that was fairly routine to her when we saw her do it.

That and, unlike most BTVS fans, I’m not a Willow groupie (I’m much more of a SMG fan, which, weirdly, seems to be a rarity in the overall Buffy fandom). I don’t think she got a kick out of doing it, directly (but see: Addiction, Magical for more on that) but overall, I don’t think it’s beyond the power-crazed little , FLOABW, witch-bitch. Evil Willow was always there right under the surface, as it is with most geeks - you just have to play WOW or DnD to realise that a little power is very dangerous in geek hands. They will use it.