Buffy Thread Number 84902: About Anya (long)

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?!

Willow: …?

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.

Unfortunately for both your argument and continuity, that’s clearly not the case.

TWICE have we met men that she cursed as a Vengence Demon who still were. Her Troll ex, and the demon who broke up her wedding.

About the Troll ex, from what I understand, Anya did that when she was human, and it was that show of power that made D’Hoffren (sp?) notice her and make her a demon. In episode 4x09 - Something Blue, D’Hoffren noticed Willow after she used a magic spell and wanted to make her a demon.

Because Anya made her ex a troll before she became a demon, it would not have been reversed when her power center was destroyed.

Uhhh…yes I know that…did you read the whole post?

Hirka T’Bawa: I think you might be right about that one, I’d have to re-watch “Triangle” to be sure. But it still messes with continuity, as I clearly recall that in 4x09 she mentioned that she had just been fiddling around with minor spells, boils on the penis and such, before becoming a demon.

Weird_AL_Einstein: I don’t remember if she said that on 4x09, let me watch it again and I’ll let you know.

Weird_AL_Einstein: Ok, i just rewatched the part on 4x09 that Ayna is explaining who D’Hoffren is, she says “…I’ve been dumped, I was miserable doing a few vengence spells, boils on the penis, nothing fancy.”

But then you also have to remember that this is only a few episodes after Xander and Ayna hooked up, its possible that she wasn’t telling the whole story.

Here’s the scene in Triangle…

ANYA: Uh, um…
XANDER: You dated him?
BUFFY: You dated a troll?
WILLOW: And we’re what, surprised by this?
ANYA: Well, he wasn’t a troll then! You know, he was just a big dumb guy, and … well, you know, he cheated on me and I made him into a troll, which by the way is… (embarrassed) how I got the … job as a vengeance demon.

And here’s the scene you refer to in The Wish…

Giles: Ah! Ah! Ah! Yes! (glances at Buffy and stands up) Here. ‘In order to defeat Anyanka, one must destroy her powercenter. This should reverse all the wishes she’s granted, rendering her mortal and powerless again.’ You see? Without her powercenter, she’d j-just be a-a-an ordinary woman again, and all this would be, um… well, different.

But Giles goes on to say:

Giles: I don’t want to kill her, Miss Summers. I want to reverse
whatever effect she’s had on this, this… world.

So the writers could be interpreting the ‘reversal of wishes’ as the reversal of the last wish, not all wishes. I mean, think of the consequences of reversing all her wishes. There would be no guarantee that the Scooby universe would be anywhere near the same, taking into account all the AUs that would spring up from the reversal of all the wishes Anya granted.

About Willow… she clearly says “Gay now.” Not “gay always.” Actually, Willow is 100% bisexual, but I think the writers are hesitant to muddy the waters like that. Vamp Willow, who could be considered the full expression of what Willow is, is bisexual. Willow clearly loved Oz, and had a puppy love thing for Xander for years. That’s why your addition with Anya wouldn’t have worked. She would simply have replied “Well, I wasn’t ALWAYS gay…”


This is all my fault, isn’t it?

FWIW, I like Anya too. Her performance in “The Body” has a lot to do with that. Even in the most recent episode, I liked her. I did not agree with her attempts to curse Xander, but I could understand it. And when she actually stopped Spike from making a wish at the end, I thought it a pretty powerful piece of drama.

However, I’m not sure about your theories. I’ve always been of the opinion that the destruction of her power center in “The Wish” only reversed the most recent wish. But it doesn’t seem like they were too clear on the whole thing. Perhaps the fact that the guy who showed up at the wedding was in another dimension somehow protected him from the whole wish-reversal thing. (Giles did say that he wanted to reverse her effect on “this world”.) I dunno. If someone can show that her wish-reversal was in fact complete - or almost so - then I might be able to get behind your theory. Sadly, I feel that is not likely the case.

Preach it brother!

You folks are way too fixated on Giles saying that the destroying the power center would undo all of Aniyanka’s curses. It’s possible, just maybe, that Giles was, well, wrong. After all, we did find out that the parallel universe with Xander and Willow as vampires still exists. So it’s debatable whether destroying Aniyanka’s bijou had any effect other than turning her mortal.

I have to admit that after the last episode, I decided that Xander actually did the right thing in dumping Anya. Anyone who wants to wreak that kind of vengeance on someone (for any reason) isn’t the kind of helpmeet I’d like to spend my life with.

Especially since Anya herself pointed out to Halfrek that only a venge-- sorry, justice demon could break his or her own curse. The power center, it would seem, was a dead end. All it did was bring Cordy back from the parallel universe and turn Anyanka mortal.

I dunno about all this power center stuff, but Anya gradually grew into one of my least favorite characters. Sure, she had funny lines every now and then, but I would not have been sad to see her character exit the show. The whole “I love money” thing got stale VERY quickly. The bunnies thing was funny the first couple of times, but got run into the ground. And don’t get me started on the wedding crap.

Plus I just couldn’t figure out why her and Xander were together. They really didn’t seem to like each other that much at all, unless you count creepy obsession on her part as “like”.

If you’re referring to “Older and Far Away”, remember that when Halfrek appeared, Anya did yell to ‘grab her necklace.’ So while only Halfrek could undo the curse while remaining a demon, destroying the gem would still have worked.

My take on Anya is that the writers seem to be trying to make us agree with Xander’s choice to leave her at the altar. They made her really difficult in the weeks leading up to the wedding, during the wedding episode, and now again. I was so glad when she stopped Spike from wishing at the end, since that meant they don’t want us to hate her too much. (Though, personally, I’d have written him completing the statement, saying something like, “I wish I didn’t have this chip in my head.” Now that would have been interesting.)

What always bothered me about Anya is that she always talked about wanting to understand humans, but she never got anywhere with it. You’d think that she’d have learned something in 3 years in the world, but no. Her words and actions never seem to show that she is changing at all.

Horsehockeys. Anya as a demon and Halfrek are evil.

Point the first. We have seen two instances in which a vengance demon grants a wish - Cordy in “The Wish” and Dawn in “Older and Far Away.” In neither case did the vengance demon ask permission from the person expressing the wish. Anya never said to Cordy, “Listen, what I’m going to do is make your wish come true. Are you cool with that?” Halfrek never said to Dawn, “Tell ya what. I’m going to make all your loved ones never leave your house again. Sound good?”
Furthermore, in both instances, the vengance demon actively solicited the wish - Anya got in tight with Cordy (by wearing cool clothes) and asked her what she wanted. Halfrek posed as Dawn’s guidance counselor and pushed for the wish.
Conclusion: vengance demons actively seek the opportunity to cause the damage they do.

Point the second. Putting aside for the moment the fact that most modern ethical/moral systems frown on vengance at all, the “several orders of magnitude” difference between crime and punishment is the evil.
Here’s a scenario. A ten year-old steals a candy bar from a store. The store owner sees this, but is unable to catch him. To get the boy back, the store owner shoots the kid the next time the kid walks by the store. Vengance misplaced by several orders of magnitude, or evil?

Point the third - if we want to compare the evilness of Spike and Anya, Anya is considerably more evil. Spike lost his soul due to the actions of Drusilla, who involuntarily turned him into a vampire. Anya, as a human, turned her boyfriend into a troll, then was offered the job of vengance demon, whose purpose was to go out and hurt people. She had her soul when she decided to become evil and I’m guessing (though this is never discussed in the show) had her soul the whole time she was a vengance demon (based on the presumption that Cordy, another volunteer demon, didn’t lose her soul). She exercised her free will to become evil, and worse yet, she’s now done it twice.


I don’t think Anya is quite as perfect as you make her out to be. As others have pointed out, Anya likely manipulated many of those scorned women into wishing awful things upon their ex’s. And there was one episode where Anya recounted one woman who was a repeat customer…after inflicting her cruel vengence on several of this woman’s ex-boyfriends, Anya wanted to tell her, “Y’know…maybe it’s you!!!”. This seems to point out that Anya may have a sliver of awareness that many of her victims were likely innocent men! The pleasure she took in the twisted & agonizing punishments she doled out points to a grusome sadistic streak in Anya.

Whoa, slow down here! I think you’re reading way too much into that scene!!! There was nothing “obvious” in Buffy’s behavior towards Anya, and there certainly was no “clear implication” that Buffy wouldn’t invite Anya in without Xander! I think that it’s more likely that the scene was shot on the front porch in order to allow Buffy to spot the lawn gnome. Simple as that…no need to read in a deep seated contempt for Anya…