On Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Search for Spike's Balls

By Sherrilyn Kenyon

I have been a huge fan of Buffy since the moment the first episode aired where she was lying in bed, dreaming of the evil baddies coming to town. I was with her in the car as Joyce Summers drove her to Sunnydale High where Buffy met the people who would one day form the nucleus of the Scoobies. And I knew then that this was going to be one of those shows that went down into television history. For all the beauty and wonder of Buffy the Vampire Slayer though, branding itself into our culture and collective hearts, I have noticed one disturbing trend in the series: the emasculation of the male characters. I have a theory about this. My belief is that Buffy is, in fact, her own special breed of vampire. Whereas traditional vampires suck the blood from their victims, Buffy drains the testosterone from the characters she is involved with–this appears to be the true source of the Slayer’s power. Nowhere is this better illustrated than with the Spike character. Spike is now a veteran of the series, but he wasn’t one of the first to fall victim to Buffy’s gonad vampirism. He is simply her most recent victim.

The first victim was Angel. Angel is a mysterious character during the early episodes. We know very little about him other than he’s debonair and a master of the one-liners; meanwhile, Buffy at this time is a soft ing©nue who is just learning her powers and skills. She has yet to discover her own vampirism.

Yet as Angel becomes more involved with Buffy, we see in him a dramatic change where he becomes weaker while she grows stronger. When he finally succumbs to her and they sleep together, I believe it isn’t so much his soul leaving him that turns him into Angelus as it is Angel seeing the writing on the wall and knowing that if something doesn’t change instantly, he will be as dead from her testosterone-drain-age as a vampire victim is from blood loss.

Enter the evil vampire Angelus. Now anyone who knows me knows I have a fondness for truly evil characters. Something about the baddest of the bad makes me rub my hands together in glee and sit up straight to watch them go.

But notice: While Angelus grew in viciousness, Buffy became a kinder, gentler Slayer. She lost a great deal of her humor and lightheartedness during this season and became (I really hate to use this word) whiney.

Ultimately, her backbone isn’t returned to her until the end of the season when she kills Angelus and then runs away from home, never to be the same again.

It is at this point that our cycle really begins.

Angel is resurrected by The First, or at least we are led to believe this. The First is that ambiguous evil that has birthed all evil.

Instead of the strong Angel who captivated us during the earlier years, the new Angel incarnation is a shadow of his former self; meanwhile, Buffy is stronger and better than ever. She has commenced her testosterone-feeding.

No one is immune to this. Think about it. Xander, though often nothing more than comic relief, had his moments of heroism early on. Remember Xander the Hyena, or the Lover, or my personal fave, Apocalypse Now Xander who was all testosterone in the one Halloween episode where Buffy reverted to being a helpless Southern belle? Buffy got her Slayerdom back–and poof, Xander was emasculated again.

Sad, but true.

Even Riley Finn succumbed to her gonad-feeding frenzy. In the early Initiative episodes he was Mr. Bad-Ass-Take-Charge-and-Get Out-of-My-Way. He was the epitome of Soldier (note the capital S) until he became involved with Buffy. Our GI commando was transformed from SEAL potential to amoeba in one short season as Buffy sucked the masculinity right out of him. We watched him slide down to the darkest pits where he paid vampires to suck his blood so that he at least had some form of control over his drainage. Finally he could stand no more of it and had to leave Sunnydale because he knew he could never be a man so long as Buffy was sucking the testosterone out of him.

In fact, as we all know, he rediscovered his manhood down in South America without her. Remember when he came back season before last as a special guest? He was our beloved commando all over again– scarred and everything. He kicked butts and took names; meanwhile, the Buffy character reverted back to being whiney. Once he’s gone, she’s strong again.

But I think the most tragic example of Buffy’s feeding comes from the character of Spike.

Ahhh, Spike. The mere mention of his name makes me smile and at the same time makes me sad. Now here was a truly great villain. From the moment he walked in and toasted the Master’s prot©g© to the episode where he went to blow the Slayer away even while he had a chip in his head, he was BAD.

Before he allowed Buffy to drain him, he was the Dirty Harry of the vampire world. Even with his wings clipped by the Initiative, he was still his nasty barbarous self, pitting Scooby against Scooby and letting fly stinging comebacks and one-liners.

Until the day he discovers his Slayer obsession. He loves Buffy. From there it is a slippery slope that leads him down to the sad shape he’s in now.

Here we really see the fact that, much like the Stygian Witch’s Eye, there can only be one set of balls per episode and it must be handed back and forth between the characters. Since the show is named Buffy, by default the balls will always revert to Buffy.

Whenever Spike is strong, Buffy is weak. Case in point, when Buffy dies, Spike takes care of the Scoobies and Dawn; when Buffy returns, he becomes submissive to her and allows her to run roughshod over him even when she’s clearly wrong.

This culminates into Spike deciding that he can’t stand handing his balls over to her anymore. Becoming the vampire we remember from the beginning, he journeys to the ends of the earth where he can battle it out to become what he was before. Of course both Spike and the viewers believe he will become his former evil self.

But since he is now involved with Buffy and she has him under control, like Dracula with his Renfield, Spike doesn’t revert to his former vampire self. He, just like Angel, gets his soul back and is now nothing more than Buffy’s punching bag.

Gone is the Spike of legend, the Spike who once slew two Slayers without hesitation, and in his place is a tragic shell that is often abused by not just Buffy, but all the cast.

It appears that in the Battle of the Balls, Buffy has finally won the ultimate victory. Poor Spike wasn’t as lucky as Angel or Riley, who were able to leave before they became Buffy’s Renfield. Spike is now on the level of Xander, who once put into words the feelings of every male character on the show: “As of this moment, it is over. I’m finished being everyone’s butt monkey.” But as we have seen, he didn’t leave and he hasn’t regained his manhood.

Now that Spike no longer has balls, it begs the question: who will be next? I thought for a minute Willow might have them, but, as we saw, Buffy the Testosterone-Sucking Vampire, with the help of her emasculated Xander, defeated her.

I believe this is why Buffy had such a hard a time defeating The First during the final season. The last time she faced The First, she had Angel to feed from. With Spike, Xander, and Willow completely drained of testosterone, she had no one to turn to for power.

Enter Faith. Why else would we bring Faith back? Not to mention the fact that poor Faith also fell victim to Buffy’s gonad suckage. At one point, they even had to knock her unconscious so that Buffy could suck her dry.

I will never forget sitting down to view the final show. I like to call this the Symphony of the Balls. It was truly spectacular to behold. Like some legendary football game, we watched the great ball handoff between the characters.

It’s in Faith’s hands, no wait, she’s injured, handoff to Buffy. No, Buffy can’t handle the testosterone charge, quickly pass to Willow. Wait no, give to Xander, oh wait, Anya has them. Ultimately, it came down to Buffy and Spike. Spike, though he was fighting off to the side, was the vampire we knew him to be. The man who defeated the demon to get his soul back. The one who took his punches and then demanded arrogantly, “Is that all you’ve got?”

This Spike was worried because his medallion wasn’t working. I kept waiting for him to proclaim to all, “I don’t need no stinking medallion. I’m here to kick them back into oblivion.” He never did. It’s not until Buffy goes down with a vicious wound that drains her testosterone that it is immediately transferred to Spike.

Finally, in the end, through the medallion, Spike receives his balls again, only to die holding down the fort while Buffy and the rest of testosterone-slayer potentials run for it.

With Spike and Sunnydale gone, I will never forget my curiosity as I sat there looking at all of them. Willow in the final minutes had dispersed the Slayer’s strength to the world. All potentials now have their full Slayer’s strength without Buffy dying.

Which is good since so many of the cast died. Now Buffy has an open banquet of people she can suck the balls from. The sky’s the limit and the Slayer is now guaranteed to be able to carry on for eternity.

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