I was going to hijack another thread for this, but then I figured, hey, we don’t have enough Buffy related threads in this forum, so…
About Anya: It seems to me she’s come in for some criticism lately, especially in this Spike thread. The gist of it seems to be, if you’re down on Spike for not feeling any remorse over his previous misdeeds, what about Anya? She’s never expressed any remorse over her career as a Vengeance Demon…sorry, Justice Demon :p…yet people seem to more readily accept her, as a Scooby even, than they do Spike. And she had her demon gig way longer than Spike’s been a vampire.
Anya is one of my favorite characters, and I don’t think she deserves this criticism. There are two reasons for this, a minor one and a major one.
The minor one is that there was a sliver of moral justification to what she did as a demon. As a demon she did not exist simply to do evil. Rather, she functioned as a way for scorned women…women who had been hurt by men, sometimes badly…to get vengeance, or “justice” as it were, a job she took because she knew how it felt, as she had been hurt, presumably very badly, by a man herself.
If we look at the precipitating event that brought her to Sunnydale, we can argue that Xander did indeed deserve to suffer some kind of retribution for cheating on Cordelia. The creation of that alternate universe was of course far worse than he deserved, by several orders of magnitude, but we can’t say that there wasn’t a tiny fragment of justification for it.
And remember, the AU happened because Cordelia made a wish, and (presumably) meant it. Anyanka was powerless unless someone made a wish. Hence she ultimately served as an expression of the desire for vengeance present in all of us. A much too powerful, wildly distorting expression, to be sure. But ultimately it could be said that she was just giving people what they asked for.
Not to mention, it seems likely that not all of the wishes she granted had consequences as destructive as the one in “The Wish”. In fact if we could look back on her career as a demon, I would speculate that some of those men got exactly what they deserved. It all depends, remember, on what the woman wished for.
But of course, if you don’t find the above argument convincing, you can brush it aside, as it is for all practical purposes irrelevent next to the major reason, which is simply this: According to what we were told in “The Wish”, all of Anyanka’s works were undone, all of her wishes un-granted, when her power source was destroyed. In fact this was a major plot point of that episode…they had to destroy her power source in order to undo the most recent wish that created the AU.
I would argue then that human Anya’s character, with her attendant lack of remorse, was based on this. Effectively, no matter how many times she circled the bases, none of her runs scored. Imagine how Angel would have felt if Jenny Calender were suddenly alive again. Well…actually, he probably still would have found something to brood about, but you get the idea.
So, through the end of season 4, the only things about which Anya should have to feel remorse were her actions in “Dopplegangland”, which I actually agree were passed over too easily (although Willow did get to clock her one at the end), and maybe skipping town on Graduation.
Of course in season 5 the writers began to be inconsistent. First, in “Triangle”, we met her old boyfriend Olaf, who she had cursed to be a troll, and who still was one. They could have wiggled out of this by saying that his curse wasn’t the result of a wish, but rather something Anya did for herself, and thus was an exception. But annoyingly, the subject was never even raised.
But then in season 6, in “Hell’s Bells”, the whole thing was blown to bits. One of Anya’s old “victims” comes back to wreak a little vengeance of his own. No explanation of how this is possible, no one even questions it. So a piece of the show’s internal consistancy is wrecked (not for the first time of course, but never mind).
Then for good measure, my ad hoc explanation for Olaf is destroyed when it is revealed that Anyanka cannot take vengeance directly for herself, but rather needs someone to make a wish for her, in “Seeing Red”. So I throw up my hands in disgust.
I blame the inconsistency on the writers, of course. I also generally blame them when a character I like does something stupid or nasty that I think is out of character. Of course Buffy is replete with examples of this, for all the characters…Xander leaving Anya at the altar was a particularly grotesque bit of ham-handed emotional manipulation…but they have had a pattern of it for the last season or so as regards Anya.
For examples, working backwards, begin with the most recent episode. It was pretty obvious that none of the other Scoobies even like her. This was particularly obvious in the scene with Buffy…observe that it took place outside Buffy’s house, on the front porch. The clear implication of this is that Buffy won’t even invite her in if she’s not with Xander.
Next, consider “Older and Far Away”. Anya’s heretofore unrevealed problem with claustrophobia comes to light when she and the others are trapped in Buffy’s house. All sweaty and nervous, she…well, she does what she does best, she tells an uncomfortable truth, that Willow should be able to help them, or at least try, and the fact that she “can’t” is her own fault. When Willow refuses, and Anya tries to browbeat her, Tara gets between them and tells her in no uncertain terms to back off.
This whole scene made me sick to my stomach. First, nobody so much as acknowledges the incredibly important issue she has just raised. Willow isn’t supposed to use magic, but does this prohibition extend even to life or death situations? Will Willow let herself, or another Scooby, or even Tara, be killed rather than use magic to save a life? It is a wrenching dilemna, but one that obviously has to be resolved, yet they just glide right over it.
And then there’s Tara. Unlike a lot of people, I like Tara, or at least I don’t dislike her, but in this episode I wanted to smack her. Standing up for Willow is all well and good, but the way she did it, with absolutely zero sensitivity for Anya’s feelings, was just painful to watch.
And her using the line “You’ll have to came through me!” was just the icing on the cake. That was the line Buffy used, you might recall, in the season 5 episode “Family”, in which she and the Scoobies, including Anya, obligingly rallied to protect Tara, someone they still didn’t know very well, from her abusive family, and this just after she had cast a spell on them, without their knowledge or consent, that had almost cost them their lives. So I think Tara’s throwing this line in Anya’s face was just nasty.
My next example comes from early in season 6, from the episode “Flooded”. Buffy desperately needs money, and Anya has a suggestion for how she can get some…charge for her services, ie for vampire slaying. Buffy smarmily berates Anya and her suggestion…“That’s an idea…that you would have,” she says, her voice dripping with condescension. Apparently charging people for saving their lives is just…beneath her.
And how does Anya respond? By pointing out that her beloved Angel is doing exactly that over in LA (and which, by the way, is kicked into high gear when Angel acquires a dependent, which Buffy already has)? No. By pointing out that police and firefighters get paid for their services? No. The example she uses is…comic book character Spiderman, whose “reward” for saving lives, as everyone but apparently Anya knows, is of course “action”, not money. In other words, she is just mind numbingly stupid, giving everyone a chance to roll their eyes and sigh in exasperation at dumb, insensitive Anya. No wonder they don’t like her :rolleyes:.
Of course, this was just a portion of the stupidity of the whole “Buffy needs money” uber-plotline, in which nobody thinks to ask why, if the Watchers Council can pay Giles a salary big enough so that he’s now pretty much made of money, they can’t give Buffy at least some kind of stipend. How do they expect Slayers to live, exactly? But let’s not go there.
My final example goes back to season 5, in the aformentioned episode “Triangle”. In it, Anya and Willow have an interesting little exchange, which I paraphrase here from memory:
Anya: I know what it was that broke up him and Cordelia…it was you! And your lips!
Willow: That is not true! Well…ok, yes it is, but…are you afraid I might do that again?
Anya: Wouldn’t you?
Willow: Hello? Gay now!
At this the exchange ends. In other words, Anya stupidly fails to make the crushingly obvious reply:
Anya: Well if you’re so “gay”, why were you so eager to put your lips on Xander’s in the first place?!
I for one really would’ve liked to have heard Willow’s response to this, as it may have shed some light on the obvious conflict between Willow’s recent sweeping assertions that she’s “gay”, and her decidedly un-gay behavior in the first three and a half seasons. Of course, that’s something the PTB on the show seem to have no inclination to do :rolleyes:.
So, to sum up: I think Anya is a cool character, one that is not perfectly “good” or “nice”…of course people always seem to complain that characters who are, or seem to be, that way ( ::cough::Tara::cough:: ) are too boring…but in the same league as the rest of the Scoobies, who the show’s writers have taken to crapping all over, which she does not deserve.