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The Buffy Scene That Has Fans Totally Divided

This article contains descriptions of sexual assault.

It's been 18 years since "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" ended its seven-season run, but fans remain passionate about the show. The supernatural series about a young woman's destiny to rid the world of vampires, demons, and an assortment of big bads (and its spinoff "Angel") has spawned an entire Buffyverse that includes comics, books, games, podcasts, and fan fiction. Plans for a revival have been in the works for years but have hit snags due to allegations of misconduct brought against the show's creator, Joss Whedon.

The show's first five seasons, which aired on the now-defunct WB, are arguably the series' best. Following Buffy's death in the Season 5 finale, the supernatural drama moved to UPN and took on a much darker tone after Buffy's resurrection. There were plenty of problematic plotlines, from the trio of misogynistic villains to the departure of Anthony Steward Head's Rupert Giles and the death of a beloved gay character. One controversial story arc is Buffy's relationship with Spike (James Marsters) in Season 6. Even Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played the titular character, voiced her frustration with her character's story arc. "I've always said that [S]eason 6 was not my favorite. I felt it betrayed who she was," Gellar told Entertainment Weekly. One scene between the two, in particular, has fans divided.

Spike attempts to rape Buffy

In Season 6, Episode 19, "Seeing Red," Spike confronts an injured Buffy and attempts to rape her after she officially ended their sexual relationship. She's able to fight him off, but the scene proved to be too much for viewers. Redditor u/Tomato_Tomat0 wrote, "Most people don't have personal experiences with murder or monsters. But a lot of people have experiences with rape or sexual assault, and so it feels more horrible because it is too close to their own reality."

Many viewers blame Spike's behavior on his lack of a soul and point out that Angel gets a free pass for his bad behavior. " ... people always forgive Angel for the evil he did without a soul. And he was much more evil than Spike. Spike tried to be good without having a soul," u/FreakoFNature222 argued. It is true that Angel was far from angelic when he killed Jenny Calendar and left her lifeless body in Giles' bed or when he plotted to unleash hell on earth, but let's not give Spike too much credit. The chip in Spike's head forced him to work with Buffy and the Scoobies in order to survive. He became an anti-hero because the only way he could give in to his dark impulses was to attack other demons. "I have mixed feelings towards it. It really hammered home that Spike does not have a soul as I think we forgot that sometimes," u/PlasticWillow stated.

Some fans blame Buffy and Spike's toxic relationship

Others feel the rape was the culmination of Buffy and Spike's violent, toxic relationship, placing as much blame on Buffy as Spike. "That relationship is a complete and utter disaster and I've ALWAYS said that. Both sides were manipulative," wrote u/delinquentsaviors. "Several times they BOTH say "no, I don't want to have sex" and then the other one pushes or shows a bit of force, and then they have sex," stated u/FanaticDreamer.

" ... I think the situation is a lot more nuanced than a lot of fans give it credit. Boiling their whole relationship to 'Spike tried to rape Buffy and is a bad person' is both disingenuous and intellectually dishonest. They both set an unhealthy precedent that season in regards to consent, boundaries, and safewords," wrote u/FanaticDreamer. When Angel lost his soul, Giles said he'd be likely to go after the things that made him feel most human — namely, Buffy. Not having a soul caused Spike and Angel to pervert the purity of love into hate or obsession. The two vamps also equated love with seduction, control, and jealousy, as do many humans. The series took typical teen angst to extremes and examined the human condition from a supernatural perspective.

The controversial scene is integral to Spike's story arc

Fans see eye to eye on the mutually destructive relationship between Spike and Buffy during Season 6, although viewers' opinions are mixed on how it played out. "Can't believe we're blaming the victim of a sexual assault in a Buffy thread about Buffy... in 2020," wrote u/Natewest1987.

The rape factors heavily into Spike's story arc moving forward. He decides to procure a soul and prove himself worthy of Buffy's love and, in the end, emerges triumphant. However, not all viewers believe this scene should have been the catalyst for Spike's redemption. "I personally think it's a very good episode but it is still difficult to watch. While I enjoy the [S]eason 6 Buffy/Spike relationship, I find it very hard to get behind it in [S]eason 7. For this reason, I wish the writers had chosen something else as the turning point toward Spike's regaining of his soul," stated u/PokeHoke.

Marsters told The A.V. Club that shooting the bathroom scene was the hardest day of his professional life, but it was a wake-up call for fans: "Spike was evil, and I think a lot of people forgot about that. Joss was constantly trying to remind the audience, 'Look, guys, I know he's charming, but he's evil.'"

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).