Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reading Buffy Synopitically: Musings on Doppelgangers in Buffy

Buffy is full of doppelgangers or doubles. There are doubles of Xander (AltXander “The Wish” and the two Xander’s of “The Replacement”). There are doubles of Willow (AltWillow in “The Wish” and the aptly titled “Doppelgangland”). Willow and Tara are to some extent doubles of each other in that they portray different ways one can use magick, Tara responsibly, Willow irresponsibly. There are doubles of Giles, the AltGiles of “The Wish”, Wesley (Season three) and Ethan Rayne (“Halloween”, “The Dark Age”, “Band Candy”, “A New Man”). There are doubles of Giles and Joyce, Buffy’s mother and father figures. Tara takes on the role of Joyce and Giles who are dead and in England respectively during season six. She becomes confidante to Buffy and her warnings to Willow about her use and abuse of wicca power during season six echo those of Giles (“Flooded”; Giles spoke generally of the dangers of magicks in “Passion” and “Becoming, Part 1”). She serves an exemplary moral function in the Buffyverse in Season six by empathising and sympathizing with Willow and Buffy, by counseling them, by not condemning them, but by being honest with them about the problems associated with their actions (“Tabula Rasa”, “Dead Things” cf. how Joyce and Giles deal with Buffy’s problems in “Innocence”). There are several doubles of Buffy. Kendra is a buttoned down Slayer version of Buffy. Faith is an unbuttoned double of Buffy. As several commentators have noted, the AltBuffy of “The Wish” is, very much like Faith, an impulsive loner filled with darkness itching to get into battle. It is no accident that AltBuffy appears for the first time in the third Season, the same season Faith arrives in Sunnydale. The intentional use of Shakespeare’s Othello in “Earshot” emphasises this doubling by pointing up the mutual jealousies of Buffy and Faith and Buffy’s fear that Angel is romantically interested in Faith. Finally, Buffy and Cordelia are to some extent doubles of each other. The Buffy of Hemery High is just like the Cordelia of Season one and Season two (“Becoming, Part One”). It shoud be noted that Cordelia becomes more like Buffy over the course of Buffy and Angel.

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