The Chosen One – A story of Sacrifice and Buffy’s Unrequited love

From the moment I saw the first episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I was hooked. Joss Whedon created a world that symbolically told the story of the universal passage into maturity. He imagined an alternate reality filled with demons, half demons and vampires. Then there was the “chosen one”  passionately played by Sarah Michelle Geller, born to be the one who as an awakened “valley girl,“ had the power of Shiva ( the destroyer). The series was a growing up saga with an exaggerated view of various arch-type struggles we all experience. Along for the ride was her ever faithful friend Willow (Rosenberg), played by Allison Hannigan, Xander, played by Nicholas Brendon, and her watcher, teacher and father figure, Rupert Giles, played by Anthony Stewart Head.

Much of the episodes grappled with Buffy dealing with the burden of uncertainty and its impact on adolescence, something many people identified with. The First season (13 episodes) introduced her at the time she first learned that she was “the chosen one” at 16, what it meant, the responsibility it entailed, and the sacrifice this burden placed on her to fulfill her destiny. Extremely well written episodes, witty and often sharp dialogue. Always with a crisp edge to it and a great deal of depth to every episode.

Then there was Angel, the mysterious dark magnetically handsome  stranger who appeared out of the night, sensitively played by David Boreanaz. We learn that he is the only good vampire (with a soul), and as the season ends and the second season begins, Whedon takes us into the journey of unrequited love. A forbidden relationship doomed to go nowhere. A slayer falling in love with someone from the race she is destined to destroy. How does one balance the conflict and frustration over the loss of personal fulfillment and the futile hope of wanting something taboo, especially if it’s contrary to the values of one’s mission in life? Every development in their love story was magnified through the lens of a teenagers struggle to grow up. Infatuation, then love for someone her instincts tell her she should destroy.

Once we get past this issue and the trust and love that develops between them, then on her 17th birthday, in the Valentine’s day two parter (Surprise/Innocence),  they mate on a stormy night with lightning and pouring rain. One touch leads to another, and the next turn of events was totally unexpected.

As a result of their consummation, the gypsy curse which had restored Angel’s soul and cursed him to feel pain and suffering had been broken and Angelus, the evil vampire returns in all his vindictive rage to torment Buffy for the remainder of the second season.

A very common fear is that the expectations we start with may not lead to the kind of relationship we want, a common let down. If sex isn’t as cataclysmic as fantasized, interest changes, possibilities refocus and the disappointment can become a source of deep depression and self depreciation. On the other hand, if it is fulfilling but still doesn’t lead to our expectations, we can feel powerless and not in control of its direction. In the worst case scenario, we attain fulfillment and the person “completely changes” their attitude and interactions to us, in which case the feeling of making one’s self vulnerable, then being betrayed, becomes the prominent feeling. In any case that may happen, risk of rejection is always there.

With Buffy and Angel, Joss Whedon explored all three and did it well. Buffy struggled with the guilt and self doubt when Angel literally turns into someone else, overnight. The feelings she was forced to deal with in her world of demons and vampires are universal. Many people grapple with this at some point their life. They (Whedon in his writing, Boreanaz and Geller in their acting) portrayed it so well that the heart of the audience felt what she felt. Her yearning for love’s final fulfillment of happiness only to have it turn to vitriolic poison when its actualized was shattering.

A very common experience that occurs on many levels, as we struggle with life, happiness and the urge to find a purpose and meaning into who we are, alone, and with someone else. A tale of intimacy, betrayal, and final insight, that what Buffy yearned for was not meant to be.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer - percepto

* the sketch above was drawn by Jon Percepto, back in 1997.