I never really got to watch Buffy when it was on TV, mostly because I live in Korea - they never played it consistently. Now I am belatedly obssessed. In one week I’ve gotten up to season 3. Wept like a baby at the end of season 2. At this rate, I may finish all 7 seasons before the month is out.
Anyway, my question is about how the whole Slayer/Anointed thing works. When one Slayer dies, another is born, right? Here’s where I’m confused: Buffy had no idea she was the Slayer until a Watcher informed her of the fact, yet Kendra mentions that she was groomed to be a Slayer as a child. So do Watchers know who will be the next Slayer? If they do, why was Buffy in the dark until she was actually needed? Or is Kendra a special case? Maybe her people are dedicated to fighting vampires? Or do Slayer candidates sometimes work as slayers until their time comes (if it ever does) to be “the” Slayer?
This is a fuzzy bit of lore which changes throughout the show. In the movie, we’re to believe that the Slayer is one girl, endlessly reborn to slay again.
At the beginning of the series, we’re told that there’s one Slayer born into each generation, which we would assume to be every 15-20 years.
Then we’re told that when one Slayer dies, another takes her place, and we’re led to believe this means there’s one or two back-up slayers-to-be on deck. (This is why we didn’t have to wait 16 years for Kendra to grow up, and why Kendra and Buffy are Slayers at the same time - Buffy technically died at when the Master drowned her, Xander’s CPR brought her back. But those few minutes of death were enough to activate Kendra as the next Slayer.) Kendra had a Watcher from early childhood (as, it seems, did Faith), but for unexplained reasons, it seems Buffy did not.
By the end of the series, we find out that there are thousands of “Potential Slayers” or “Potentials”, some with Watchers who train them, some (like Buffy, it seems) without a Watcher or training. The Potentials seem to have greater strength, speed and agility than normal girls, but not so great as the Slayer. When a Slayer dies, a Potential is activated, and becomes the next Slayer, gaining all the power that comes with it. It seems that no one, including the Watcher’s Council, knows which Potential will become the Slayer.
t seems to vary from one Slayer candidate (AKA “Potential”) to the next. Some Potentials are found and trained (as Kendra was; her village apparently has a long history of spawning Potentials). Others, like Buffy, aren’t.
Really, only one summer? Huh. Ok. I thought it was a longer established relationship. Based on what? Nothing really, excepts Joss’ love of killing off half of loving, established relationships. Really, it woulda made a better story.
Based on the events of the final seasons of both Buffy and Angel, it seems that there are thousands of Potentials, with more born all the time, but the Watchers Council *does not know *who they will be, or where they will live. Hence the existence of the Council at all: its general purpose is not so much to aid the current Slayer so much as locate and prepare the Potentials. Some, like Buffy, slip through the Council’s notice, while others, like Kendra, are identified early on. It’s clear that once a Slayer is chosen, the Council finds out who she is very quickly, even if she wasn’t previously identified as a Potential. It appears that if a Potential already has an assigned Watcher when she becomes the Slayer, she remains under that Watcher’s tutelage.
Spoilers for various seasons of Buffy
[spoiler]In Buffy’s case, the Council assigned a Watcher to her once she was chosen, and then another when her first Watcher died, and then another when they fired her second Watcher, and then rehired the second Watcher after firing the third Watcher, but only after Buffy had quit the Council entirely for more than a year.
Just to add to this, a question I had for a long time had to do with this:
Buffy dies - Kendra is called.
Kendra dies - Faith is called.
Buffy dies again - no new calling.
The reason i’ve heard from people is that when the torch is passed, the original slayer (usually dead) is now just “a” slayer, while the new one is “the” slayer. In two occasions, the most recent slayer (“the” slayer) have died, the next has been called, but when Buffy died the second time, she was just “a” slayer, and so no new Potential became a slayer. All “the” slayers seem to keep their powers, though.
Here’s how I see it: it works, big-picture-wise. The rest is slipping into the seductive delusion that it’s not entirely fictional. The math doesn’t have to come out right on paper in order for Buffy to “work.” If you ax me.
I think this is essentially correct. Actually, it always struck me as odd that Buffy came back with all of her powers intact. It seems more intuitive to me that the powers would have “passed” to Kendra. Of course, if that happens, there’s no show. And I love me some Buffy, so you won’t catch me complaining.
Of course, the series finale raises (or rather, fails to raise) an interesting issue. Are there still “potentials”? Will a new slayer now come about every time one dies? Or are slayers born at full slayer power? Because toddler slayers? is the scariest thing I’ve ever contemplated.)
There’s an episode of Angel that addresses this issue. Apparently, all potential Slayers, everywhere, immediately reached full Slayer power. What sounded all well and good and inspirational when unleashed in “Chosen” turns out to have some nasty side effects, as a Potential in an insane asylum goes berserk and kills a bunch of people with her new-found powers (and mutilates Spike pretty badly in the process). She’s ultimately subdued and taken into custody by a team of Slayers sent by the new Watchers Council, who presumably attempt to rehabilitate her in a setting where the people around her understand the strength she possesses.
My fanwanking solution to the last part of that is that Willow’s spell activated all the Potentials currently in existence, but wouldn’t continually activate Potentials as they’re born. Which doesn’t address the issue of toddler Slayers who were activated by Willow, but at least it deals with the idea of newborns.
In that case, Willow’s powers are far superior to those of the Council. (Yeah, duh, I know.) Didn’t she do a locating-spell that pointed out all potential slayers by shooting a ball of light at them in Season Seven?
[spoiler]I’ve only seen that episode once, but IIRC, her spell has a relatively short range. They already knew there was a Potential in Sunnydale who had not been accounted for, and were trying to locate her specifically. The Council has (err… had) the much more difficult task of identifying Potentials all over the world.
And don’t forget… the spell did sort of go awry, as Willow’s schemes often do. ;)[/spoiler]
Well, it has to not *NOT *work. If you have to dig and twist and turn over rocks to find a flaw in the set of laws, then it’s working. Even if, 6 or 8 layers down, you finally find a flaw, it’s working. Not working, for me, is when you have to fight to keep your eyes from rolling; when you have to make a conscious choice to overlook the not workingness. Like Alias. Buffy, no such effort required: you have to go on a flaw hunt to make it not work.
I love Buffy, and it definitely works for me - I cried so much over Angel and Buffy that my mom thought I was insane. I am not on a “flaw hunt.” The question of how the title of Slayer is handed down just occured to me, and I was curious. I wasn’t asking the question in hopes of exposing a flaw - I simply wanted to know. And now I do. Thanks to all who answered my question.