This week IDW’s Spike
#6, written by Brian Lynch, caused another, unexpected round of fandom ‘What fresh hell’ on my f-list, the likes of which I wasn’t expecting to see until S9 began and which has apparently caused quite a furor on certain forums similar to the commotion after S6. I can’t speak to that since I eschew non-Spuffy fansites and didn’t watch BtVS when it aired, but after reading some of my f-list’s posts, I was inspired to write about what the soul means to me.
A brief background on the commotion, as I understand it from moscow_watcher
’s excellent post
: A villain steals Spike’s soul, and Spike’s reaction is:"Before it was official. Before the goddamned voodoo. I was GOOD. That glowy ball. That thing you've had a hard-on to tear from me? Hang it on your wall. Bronze it. I don't need it."
Spike then gives his soul to Drusilla to stop her from killing one of his friends, as all other physical or magical means of stopping her are exhausted by that point. Apparently the S8 writers have stated unequivocally that Spike has his soul in the last arc, which means he somehow gets it back in the last two issues of IDW’s Spike
Spike’s decision and ability to be good without his soul have not only excited Spike haters but also divided Spike lovers through several arguments:
a) If Spike can be good without a soul then he is more responsible for his crimes than Angel is for Angelus’s and is extra evil.
b) If Spike can be good without a soul, his redemption in S7 is invalidated.
I don’t believe either of these viewpoints, but as a Spuffy fan, it’s the second one that most saddens me because it seems like Spike’s soul has become a (very unnecessary) dividing line in the sand. I don’t think Spike losing his soul invalidates his redemption. I also don’t think that Spike’s S7 souled redemption arc invalidates his ability to be good unsouled.
I’ve been confused in the past about why some people regard it as an either/or situation, and I’ve come to conclusion that it must depend on your personal definition of what a soul means in the Buffyverse.
The writers never cohesively nor consistently defined what a soul means, so I understand that canon supports many different interpretations of the soul, some of which probably would
invalidate one character arc or another. I choose to base my interpretation of the soul on Spike and other vampires’ actions
, rather than on the various verbal definitions that Buffy, Angel, and the Council provide. Even though I use statement language in the following essay rather than ‘I feel’ or ‘I think,’ I am not
trying to convince anyone of what the ‘right’ definition of a soul is. I am going to explain my interpretation of the soul and why I don’t think it invalidates any character arcs.
What a soul means to me:
a) (Increased) Ability to empathize
b) Increased ability to differentiate between right and wrong. Note here that the ‘increased’ is not in parentheses as it is above.
willpower/insert-vaguely-synonmyous-word here to resist vampiric instincts( Read more... )