Disclaimers: contains spoilers for Arrow and BtvS. The Buffy section contains mentions of rape and secret drugging. The Arrow part deals with addiction, death, verbal abuse. These don’t really deal with ‘ships, but against my better judgment I still ship Lauriver and I hate all of Buffy’s love interests as her love interests, she deserves better, although I am an Angel stan. Also this is almost 3500 words, so long.
Further clarification about character feelings: Stanning Laurel Lance since the day after Arrow Pilot aired in America; feelings vary depending how Oliver is written in an episode, current not positive; contains a kinda negative portrayal of Sara Lance since she’s a kinda terrible sister; not a fan of Spike, hate Spuffy; and neutral but occasionally annoyed at Buffy Summers.
About the shows: Arrow is a mess of which I only really liked S1; BtVS is a mostly good show I haven’t really watched in years. If any of the above annoys you, it’s probably best for you to not read this, IDK.
I started thinking about this post about a year ago when I started thinking about why since I love Laurel so much, especially her forgiving nature, do I just not care about Buffy Summers? Especially since I know people who love her for that same forgiving nature, yet Buffy’s forgiving just doesn’t really do it for me. I finally figured it out and it’s about how the shows handle the forgiving done by their leading ladies. Like, basically one of the few things Arrow has done consistently well is allow Laurel her anger and emotional reactions before she forgives someone, because that is her nature. Whereas with Buffy, the show either robs her of making the choice to forgive or not or then it just expects her to forgive and doesn’t bother to have her have a choice in the matter.
Laurel Lance: preshow: She had her life pretty much worked out. She was going to go to law school (she already did her LSATs), move in with Oliver, get married to him some time later, have 2 happy parents and a bratty but beloved little sister Sara. Then she sees in the news that her boyfriend, his father and the crew on a ship are dead. The boat sank. Her boyfriend was supposed to be on a boat trip for a few weeks and come back to her, but instead he’s dead. What makes it worse, is that while she’s still dealing with that information, Moira, her should-have-been mother-in-law, comes to tell her that her sister was on that boat too and now she’s dead. She’s dead because she was fucking her sister’s boyfriend. This, understandably, leaves Laurel in an emotional turmoil she can’t get herself out of for many years. She has a right to be angry for the betrayal of Sara and Oliver. But they are also *dead*, her baby sister is dead, the love of her life is dead. She can’t be angry and mourn them, but she can’t mourn them because she’s so angry. So she works her ass off in law school. She gets offered a job at a prestigious law firm in San Francisco after she graduates. She becomes a lawyer because she wants to fight for what’s right. However, emotionally her life is not good. She has occasional hookups with Tommy, mutual friend to her and Oliver, because (she’s demisexual and also) they both get where the other one is coming from emotionally. Her father throws himself first to work and then to alcohol. Her mother, Dinah, divorces her father because of the work and Quentin’s alcoholism, but also because she feels guilty about letting Sara on the boat with Oliver, and she has almost no contact with her daughter until half way S1. She also has to deal with the saintification of Sara, because you can’t speak ill of the dead, even when the dead died because they were fucking your boyfriend. Laurel probably went to law school near Starling City, because after the divorce she tried to help her father keep his job and not let him completely ruin his life, even though Quentin was verbally abusive to Laurel and made it pretty clear he thought the wrong daughter died. Even with all that going on, Laurel decides to not take the San Francisco job and starts up a legal aid clinic with her best friend from law school, Joanna. She’s managed to have her life somewhat together when surprise:
Arrow S1: Turns out, Oliver is not dead! Laurel again hears about it through the news (why the fuck did no one inform her personally about Oliver?), and after she’s had some time to process that info, while also working on an important case, Oliver comes to see her. And Laurel is *angry*. She is angry, she is unforgiving, she is maybe a bit cruel. But that’s *OK*! Oliver accepts her anger. Because he deserves it. He cheated on her with her sister, because he was scared of taking the next step with Laurel, and that got Sara killed and it wrecked Laurel’s life. But, at the end of the episode, Laurel comes to see Oliver again. She’s still not over the betrayal, she’s still angry, but she’s willing to be there for Oliver if he needs it. Because Oliver was the man she was going to spend her life with. They’ve known each other since childhood, they were together for many years, they were probably in love with each other even longer. And now, that Oliver is alive, and she can just be angry with him, without it being hindered or tempered with grief, she can finally start moving on. So she starts to forgive him, and one of the season 1 arcs is Oliver and Laurel working on their relationship, to build it back up to romantic. It’s a slow process, and it gets hampered because of Laurel trying to make an actual relationship with Tommy work and Oliver having to keep his vigilantism a secret, but it started with Laurel being allowed to be genuinely angry, while Oliver was also genuinely sorry for his actions (remember those days? when Oliver was a decent person, even though he was killing people).
In season 1, Laurel was also allowed to be angry with her parents. When Quentin uses her in an attempt to catch the vigilante (Oliver/Arrow) while putting her in danger, Laurel is allowed to be angry and yell at him and tell him she can’t trust him for a while. Then they don’t interact for several episodes. Not only that, because in this show it could’ve just meant lots of cut scenes, but the next time they do interact, Quentin tells her how happy he is to see her, since they haven’t spoken in *months* and he’s sorry for what he did and how he used her. LAUREL WAS ALLOWED TO BE ANGRY WITH HER FATHER FOR MONTHS WHEN HE FUCKED HER OVER. I think that is a very important point for the later Buffy discussion. Prior to their reconciliation, Dinah, comes back into Laurel’s life after a long absence because she thinks Sara might still be alive. So even though at first Laurel is dismissive of her mother, telling her ‘OK, nice to see you, send me a postcard’, once her mother tells of her suspicions, she’s willing to listen. When she finds out her mother let her sister go on that fateful boat trip with her boyfriend, she’s hurt but in the end she wants to keep staying in touch with her mother. While Dinah is only a guest star and as such the reconciliation between the Dinahs is a bit too quick, Laurel is at least allowed to have time to mull over the information and then decide she’d like to have a relationship with her mother again.
S2: This one is less clearly well handled but I’m gonna deal with this one too. Sara is a fascinating character, if only for the reason that she was fridged in s1, defridged in s2, killed, literally fridged in S3 premiere and 2nd episode, in a manner that could have or could not have been fridging (killed for male character’s development) which turned out to be fridging, and now she’s resurrected/gonna be resurrected (fucking) again for a spin off show. Now that that’s out of the way, Sara came back to Starling at the start of s2, told her dad and Oliver, kept it a secret from others, including Laurel, and then Laurel found out after Sara’s ex-girlfriend who is an assassin, poisoned her twice and tried to kill their mother in order to get Sara back to her and her assassin league. Sara managed to get out of going back by rather poisoning herself but it the end she gets saved. The Lance parents are happy and Sara is happy. Laurel, isn’t. S2 background for Laurel. After the aforementioned development between her and Oliver, after her relationship with Tommy doesn’t work out because of Lauriver feels, she and Oliver attempt to get back together. Tommy’s father is a supervillain who tries to destroy a section of the city. In that part of the city, Laurel has her legal aid office, so even though she knows it might/will be dangerous, she’s trying to get all the client files and evidence and whatever else they have at the CNRI, because she cares about her clients so fucking much. But her selflessness leads to her being in danger when there’s an earthquake that destroys the CNRI building. Tommy assumed she’d be at CNRI and while he manages to save her, he himself dies. So Laurel gets massive survivor’s guilt, even more than she already has from Sara’s dead. She does not deal with it well. Her best friend Joanna is gone, Tommy is dead, Oliver disappears for 5 months, she had to start a new job at the DA’s office, so no friends there and her life gets threatened again. Did I mention about how people are constantly trying to kill her? There have been attempts at her life because she’s lawyer extraordinaire, because of her father, because of the Arrow/vigilante, just because she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. So, to deal with all those close calls, the massive guilt she’s feeling and having to pick herself up alone, again, she turns to alcohol, painkillers and blaming the vigilante. She quickly gets over the latter, but she keeps self medicating herself until she correctly accuses a powerful man of being terrible and almost getting disbarred because of her drug issue. She’s in a terrible place by the time Sara makes her reappearance. So, just like with Oliver, once she gets to untangle anger from grief, she gives anger the full power. While a fantasy of Sara being alive was comforting to her, having her actually be alive is a different thing. Because she got almost killed because of Sara. Sara’s been alive for the past 6 years without contacting them in any way. Sara’s ‘death’ killed their parents’ marriage. She fucked her boyfriend and destroyed her life. Now, even her law career is going down in flames, so she can’t even cling to that. So she tells Sara all this, yells at her to get out and throws a glass near her. She is fucking furious, and she has a right to be. Then the episode ends by Sara and Oliver starting to fuck each other again, because they’re angry at their families. Next episode, Sara brings her new bf Oliver to Lance only family dinner and doesn’t even hide the fact that she’s together with Oliver. So Laurel is again angry, and yells at Sara, and Oliver, and Oliver verbally abuses her, throws her addiction back in her face and yet Laurel is the one who ends up apologizing to Sara, asking Sara not to hate her. That choice makes me so angry. Ask a Laurel stan about ‘the hallway scene’ and they all know what you mean. Because in that scene, they didn’t let Laurel be angry anymore, it was time for her to hit rock bottom by having Oliver yell at her. And while she joined AA in between the scenes, having Laurel be the one to apologize to Sara, without Sara ever giving a proper apology to Laurel, is fucked up. But we have the anger in that screencap, so yay!
S3: She still gets to call Oliver out on his shit, not that it matters much because S3 is a fucking mess.
So, to summarize the Laurel part, why Laurel forgiving people works for me, is because she is allowed to have emotions about what people did to her. She’s allowed to be angry and sad and cry and be furious and once those feelings are over, she then can forgive or start to forgive the people who hurt her.
First, the basic info on Buffy. Buffy starts as a 16 year high school student and as the Slayer, and ends the show as a 20 something, still a Slayer. At the start she has 2 friends, Willow and Xander and her watcher Giles. She has a mother and later gains a little sister. She has 3 main love interests, the first and third ones, Angel and Spike, are vampires, the middle one Riley is human. I’m not sure if I’ll deal with Riley at all, but what needs to be clarified about vampires in this ‘verse is that they can be souled or unsouled, and whether or not they have souls basically decides whether they can be good or not.
The first forgiving incident I am going to go through is in ep 5, The Pack. In it, Xander gets possessed by a hyena spirit, which turns him into a violent teenage boy OD’ing on testosterone. This leads Xander to belittle Willow’s feelings for him (she has a standard crush on the only male that gives her the time of day) and to attack Buffy. The attack has sexual connotations and can easily be read as attempted rape. However, Buffy quickly defeats him and knocks him out and goes on to save the day and depossess Xander. Where the problem with the shows handling of this issue comes is what happened next: Xander fakes amnesia of his actions as hyena!Xander. And even though Giles knows Xander is faking it, he lets him do that. This robs both Buffy and Willow of Xander’s apology and the opportunity to decide whether to forgive him or not. Instead, they just have to accept that Xander said and did those things, and move on. Because Xander doesn’t remember, there’s no way for them to gain closure for those actions through apology to forgiveness. Instead, they just need to forget. And Xander gets off scot-free.
To continue in this vein, is Giles in 3.12 Helpless. In that episode, Buffy turns 18 and she needs to complete a test of her skills by killing a vampire without having her powers. So Giles spends the start of the episode drugging her to suppress her powers. When she finds out around the middle of the episode, she is devastated. Over the seasons, she’s come to really rely on Giles and his fatherly affection and everything. And Giles violates that, choosing his Watcher’s duty over the wellbeing of Buffy and her mother, who gets taken as incentive to Buffy. She’s upset, she’s crying and goes on to complete the mission on her own. At the end of the episode, because Giles did try to help her ultimately, Giles gets fired from the Watcher’s council for ‘having a father’s love for’ Buffy. In the end, Giles helps Buffy tend to her wounds and that’s it. Buffy is not shown to be upset with him anymore, she never refers to that violation again, and their relationship is back to normal in the next episode. There’s no prolonged discussion or apology or anything. It was an episode-centric conflict that ends with the episode. Compare that to Laurel not speaking with her father for months after he put her life in danger, and the different is clear. The show has Buffy forgive Giles because he lost his job, because he loves her like a father and that’s it.
The issues with the comeback of Angel in S3 and the comeback of Spike in S7 have similar issues so I deal with them together. For the background, Angel and Buffy had about 20 episodes of development before the decide to have sex together for the first time after a near death experience. Angel is 26-looking, 240+ year old vampire who has a soul because he was cursed to suffer like his victims suffered. Because it is a *curse* and not a *gift*, it has an escape clause. If Angel is not burdened by his past for a moment, the soul is not doing its job and he will lose it. At the time of Bangel getting it on, Angel is not aware of that fact. So in the afterglow of loving and being loved by Buffy, Angel loses his soul. Over the next few months, he stalks Buffy, kills her classmates and her teacher (Jenny Calendar) and decides to try to get the world sucked into a hell dimension. Before he can do that, Buffy finds a way to get him ensouled again but ultimately it’s too late and while Angel does get his soul back, the process of world-get-sucked-into-hell has started and can only be stopped by sending Angel there. So that is what Buffy does. Because everything else in her life has also been ruined, she runs to Los Angeles for 3-4 months. Once she gets back, it takes her a while but she manages to start moving on from Angel in 3.3. And that’s when he comes back from hell, animalistic and not all mentally there. In 3.4, Buffy finds him and takes it upon herself to first restrain him and once he’s come back into himself a bit, to nurse him back into (mental) health. This approach has issues, because it doesn’t let Buffy decide whether or not she wants Angel back into her life or not. Now, as a slayer who kills vampires that often times look human except they turn to dust when you kill them, and the fact that she fell in love with Angel, she needs to believe in the dichotomy of souled= good, soulless=bad. So her accepting souled!Angel back in her life, not blaming Angel, those fits with her personality. But the show still doesn’t let her make the choice because it thrusts Angel back into her life without her having a choice.
This pattern is repeated with Spike in S7. In S6, Buffy has been brought back to life after sacrificing herself in the S5 finale. She is not happy to be back and she is very depressed. In general her life is a mess, and she starts a messy sexual relationship with Spike. Spike has been in the show since S2, he has tried to kill her multiple times, and while he developed ‘love’ for Buffy in S5 and cares for Buffy’s little sister Dawn, he is still a soulless vampire that cannot kill because a chip in his brain will give him a painful shock if he tries. At the end of S6, Buffy has ended their relationship because it is bad for the both of them, but Spike doesn’t accept it. He tries to rape her and he is only stopped because Buffy is stronger than him and manages to fight him off. Spike’s solution to this issue is to try to go to a wish granting demon or something and get himself a soul. Now, there are many ways to read that situation, mine is that Spike is trying to get a soul because Buffy used that as a reason for why she can’t trust him, or love him and Spike wants to make that ‘excuse’ to go away. Spike was not a good boyfriend and often tried to make Buffy’s depression worse so she’d continue sleeping with him. To me, him going to get a soul is not a positive thing. Anyway, getting that soul really fucked Spike up. He disappeared from Buffy’s life after the AR, Buffy fought another apocalypse and moved on with her life between seasons. At the start of S7, Spike first comes back to her life acting like nothing had happened. But then he gets triggered and Buffy sees just how badly off Spike is and she finds out he got his soul back, for her. So again she feels responsible for helping Spike with his mental health, even though the last time they saw each other he was trying to hurt and violate her terribly. Again, she is not given a choice in having Spike back in her life. It’s taken from her or it’s expected that she will do that without giving her consider the situation at all.
I could come up with a half a dozen other times this happens to Buffy but this is long enough as it is. It’s clearly a symptom on BtVS’s lack of interest of properly dealing with conflict, instead of choosing to sidestep the difficult parts to get to the resolution which as a result do not feel earned.
There are other, less drastic examples of how Buffy constantly has to forgive people who hurt her, usually immediately. The only example of Buffy not having to forgive someone immediately or at all, is the damage that was caused to her by Faith, a fellow slayer since S3. I’m not quite sure how that fits in with my overall point, but it is an interesting departure from the pattern. The point I am trying to make is that, unlike Laurel who gets to be angry and upset and then later decide to forgive people, forgiveness is both expected and assumed from Buffy almost every time. So I think that is the reason why Buffy being forgiving does not connect with me like Laurel’s forgiveness does, because Buffy is not really given agency in forgiveness, it’s something she has to do instead of something she chooses to do.
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Russian for Beginners (English-based) II A (pass)
Administrative Law 5
EU Internal Market Law 2
International and Comparative Labour Law 4
Comparative Criminal Law 5
International Economic Law 3
Legislative drafting 3
Comparative Property Law 5
Total: 103.00 ECP
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Domi, the source of the loveliest photosets and so much heart and courage and strength that I just read your posts with such awe. I look forward to being law studying buddies and I promise I'll get around to replying to all your lovely posts!
Samsom, I always love reading and rereading your fic and I am loving our ats prequel discussions! I have lots of thoughts I want to express and talk with you. I love your thoughts!
Kita, I'm sorry to read about your medical issues. I hope everything works out in the end. You'll always be my fellow pale Angel stan.
Rynogeny, I know we haven't actually talked but I love having other Bones lovers on my flist and I always enjoy reading your thoughts on various Bones places were I lurk.
Maia, I know your not on lj much these days but I still want to express my love for you here. You're my favorite little sister!
Ima tv junkie, you make the best DB fanvids and I love your love for DB and Bones and Angel and our shared OTPs!
magicalwhispers, we had some fun talking about Cangel months ago.
xlivvielockex, you'll never properly know how much your friendship means to me because I am bad with words.
angryscientist, good luck with your internship and everything! I always enjoy having someone in the same timezone and talking about Angel :).
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