Written by Kristina
With recent events in season seven of Buffy (don't worry, I'm not actually going to talk about season seven, just in case there are people that haven't had a chance to see the season yet), I've done a lot of thinking. And this thinking has centered on Buffy's superiority complex in high school. It was there the whole time, but just hovering in the background. It wasn't until events of season three that it began to develop and emerge.
When Buffy came back to Sunnydale after spending a summer in LA (after "Becoming"), things weren't right between her and her friends. Sure, they played at being okay with each other, but they really weren't. And finally, after Buffy couldn't keep up the charade of being alright, she planned to bail on her "dead man's" party - and was promptly caught. Willow hit the nail on the head in the following exchange:
Buffy: Why are you attacking me? I'm trying.
Willow: Wow, and it looks so much like giving up!
Buffy: I'm just trying to make things easier.
Willow: For who?
Buffy: You guys were doing just fine without me.
Willow: We were doing the best we could! It's not like we had a lot of choice in the matter.
Buffy: Sorry that I had to leave, but you don't know what I was going through.
Willow: Well, I'd like to.
Buffy: You wouldn't understand.
Buffy was giving up - she thought she was superior, and that nobody would understand her problems. It's true that Willow wouldn't have known what it was like to have to kill her boyfriend to save the world, but she could have listened. And Buffy could have tried - but she didn't. Holding herself separate from her friends caused a rift. Killing Angel was the hardest thing she had to do, and she went through a lot, but because she wouldn't let her friends understand what she was going through, they didn't. They came across as remotely supportive, in order to protect themselves. For all they knew, Buffy could have flown off again, never to be heard from.
Now more than ever, Buffy began to internalize things. She internalized her pain, and major discoveries. She knew her friends would disapprove of Angel being back in Sunnydale (even though he endured centuries of torment in a hell dimension) so she didn't tell them. She took it upon herself to look after him. And so, she began to feel more and more alone.
Things became worse when Angel left her - she did talk to Willow about it, but she ended up closing herself off. She fell for the first boy that came along, and was hurt once again. By the time she and Riley got together, she had shut much of herself off. She never gave her whole self to Riley - she didn't want to feel so lost and alone again. Rather than talking things over with Riley, she made the decisions. And when he called her on it and gave her an ultimatum, she finally realized - too late - what she had done. She surrounded herself in her cloak of loneliness, and when her mother died, she took care of all the arrangements, but didn't confide in anyone. She never asked for help - presumably because she thought of herself as the strongest of her group of friends, and she tried to live up to that.
Her complex in high school was nothing to match the complex she developed after she had been brought back from the dead. In high school, she knew the importance of her friends. She knew that she would have been dead if it wasn't for them - they helped her fight back the tide of evil in Sunnydale. She wasn't popular either - she knew that in the hierarchy of high school "royalty" she was way down the line. She had Snyder on her case all the time - she had constant reminders that there were people out there that were better than her.
She had her friends, but after her death, they wouldn't let her rest in peace, so they brought her back. Her death alienated her from them, and rather than talking about it, she internalized her feelings - once again. She turned to Spike, thinking she would never feel anything for him. But she did begin to feel things - hate and self-loathing. But through it all, she couldn't bring herself to tell her friends.
She was still supposed to be the strong one. She was supposed to be able to deal with her life, because it paled in comparison to her destiny. She finally realized, however, when her best friend turned to darkness and she failed to stop her, that she wasn't the only person that could save the world. She learned that not everything was her problem, or her fault. Yes, she had superior strength and a difficult destiny to carry, but she was not superior to anyone else. Her friends - the world - they all struggled through, trying to carve out a niche for themselves. In the end, they were all the same. All equals. But in Buffy's eyes, she would never be anybody's equal. Because while being superior to her friends, she felt beneath them - because she thought she was superior.
A fine mess, if you ask me. How does Buffy sort out where she falls in the world - how do you deal with being the chosen one (well, now two), especially when the Council (who should have helped her) never grounded her - never let her know her place in the world? Well, for once, she could turn to the one group of people that have served to ground her - her friends.
Special thanks to Zinna for being my sounding board on this article, and helping me to get through my writer's block.