Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Buffy Excursus: Repentance

Willow and Buffy demonstrate some good illustrations of repentance in season six.

In “Smashed” and “Wrecked” we see Willow descend into the depths of denial and addiction to the point where she actually hurts others. In the before this crash happens, she is warned by her friends that she has a problem, and she even says she will do something about it when Tara threatens to end their relationship. However, this is a good example of the way others cannot force us to repent of something that we do not see as a problem.
For Willow, her magic is not a problem; others just fail to see the situation correctly. In “Tabula Rasa” she does not repent but rather she puts on a front, tries to hide her sin and manipulate others. This does cause Tara to ultimately leave but even then Willow is not convinced that she has a problem.

It is not until Dawn is seriously hurt in her care that Willow wakes up to the fact that she needs to change. Once she sees the problem the way others do, she is willing to try to change. That is the way repentance works. However, seeing a need to change and actually achieving change are two separate things. The rest of the season will tell if Willow has the strength to fix herself or not.

Buffy, on the other hand, has a different problem. She knows that her depression has led her into a relationship with Spike that is wrong. At the root of her problem, however, and the reason that she cannot repent in a way that truly changes her behavior is that she has bought into a lie. She believes that she is a monster and cannot help but behave like one.

That is why she is so distraught when Tara informs her in "Dead Things" that she has not been corrupted. She was not turned evil when she was brought back. Once she realizes that the relationship is not a part of her nature, she will have the strength to behave the way she knows she should. For repentance to truly work, we need to turn away from things that are not natural to things that are in our nature to do. A fundamental change must take place in our person.

That is something we cannot achieve on our own.

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