awesome ladies don't have to be human. that's...somethingism

Feb 16, 2011 13:30

Obviously Dru talk can veer into some unhappy territory. I’ve attempted to keep the conversation as very very vague as possible but I’d much prefer to be upfront.

Drusilla is a gorgeous non-human character, not least because she is just so very inhuman. There’s actually very little Dru-specific analysis up that I’ve seen - though idol_reflection  has a lovely essay, and marketchippie  has written a fantastic examination of Drusilla’s end of Spike/Dru - which makes a good deal of sense. Drusilla belongs to the poets and the dreamers, not the analyzers, and she certainly doesn’t lend herself to essays so much as scattered thoughts, but I want to give it a try.

I talked at great and tiresome length the other day about Darla and how she is deliciously amoral. Drusilla, I think, is a step even beyond that, because she does not even understand the idea of human morality anymore. She experiences goodness and wickedness as aesthetic phenomena, not normative ideas. Darla finds delight in things wicked and good regardless, a view being as much of a treat to her as the blood of a child. Drusilla does experience the divide between wicked and good, but she experiences it as pleasure and disdain.

Dru is outside of time, too. There’s a fairly common interpretation of Drusilla, which which I agree, that everything she says not only makes sense, but is in fact true. She just doesn’t know where she is in time, or how to put it into words. She is the truest modern Cassandra, perhaps farther out even than Cassandra herself, because Drusilla cannot heed or even understand her own warnings.

And yet, there’s something in her that does feel the absence of her humanity, even if would not be able to understand it well enough to wish for it back. I’ll give you a seed if you sing. I’m full and warm, yet all alone. Everything I put in the ground withers and dies. She still loves the sunshine. It’s not a question of wanting otherwise - because she no longer realizes that there is an otherwise - but all the same, there’s something missing and she knows it.

Or what, you’ll hurt me? No. No, you can’t. Not anymore.

Our culture obviously has a lot of big problems with how we conceptualize people who have had horrible things happen to them. And while I wouldn’t presume to decide anyone individual is a victim or survivor, I do think that the nature of victimhood itself deserves some examination. The choice to identify as a survivor rather than a victim can be a powerful, healing one for individuals; the systemic pressure to “stop being a victim” is appalling and intolerable. Because having been victimized somehow sucks, but it’s not a shameful thing. It’s not a thing that makes you any less whole, or less human, or steals your mind or your soul, or consigns you to an eternity of nights.

But, even so, what if it did?

Dru is an examination of this issue - this is a common theme in the ME opus, with River Tam and then the Actives, but it’s at its purest with Drusilla. Dru is, unquestionably, a victim. She can’t be a survivor, she’s dead. She is also: strong, and fascinating, and unique, and not pitied but loved, all the things we imply someone can’t be unless she “stops being a victim.” She was destroyed in every sense of the term, more horribly and methodically than a creature with a soul could even imagine, but she still has power and grace and an essential consciousness and a sense of self. She’s still Dru. Even Angel couldn’t take that away from her.

Drusilla is the only one of our four Aurelians never to be ensouled and redeemed, which in and of itself is a sign of her role as perennial victim - for what can she be redeemed, when she has chosen none of this? Even if they were all innocent victims, once upon a time, there’s some slight hint of a Faustian bargain on the part of both Liam and William upon their turnings. Human Darla actively tried to become a vampire again when she was resurrected; Angel freely chose his vampire nature during IWRY. Drusilla, though, cannot possibly be said to have chosen any of this. She should be stopped. She does not need to be redeemed.

This comparison obviously could be exceptionally problematic, but the parallels and contrasts between Buffy and Dru are what save it from disaster and make it something truly interesting. It is distinctly not a comparison of more or less, of flat or rounded, of weak and strong. The good and evil question - the one which does change everything - that’s about humans vs vampires, same as it ever was.

Victimhood, which Dru personifies, is completely divorced from those questions. It just is. We’ll finish this thought out in the lovely Dollhouse - with Claire who likes her scars, with Echo who’s not broken - but this all starts with Drusilla. And it’s a thought that challenges everything.

Don’t be cross, I could be your mummy.

Dru, crafted as she was in the image of Angel’s cruelest dreams, very much should be a character who can reflect the others around her. That, combined with the strength of her bond with her family, means she interprets and reflects back to them whatever they wish her to be. If it were any other character, it’d be unclear how much of it is an act and how much of it is subconscious. With Dru, though, she’s actually becoming whatever the other party wishes her to be. She’s Spike’s dark princess, Angel’s loveliest work of art, Darla’s aggravating but loving granddaughter-mother-sister. Not pretending to be. Is.

When we meet her with Spike (granted, she has just been almost killed by the idiot mob, so there’s some external injury in her behavior as well), Spike who pines for a mother and a muse and a dark princess, she’s at her most fragmented and poetic all at once. It is when she is rawest about displaying what Angel has made of her, with her complete refusal to hide the tumult within.

With Angel, she is still her wild self, untethered to the world, but she puts on a show for him. She can cover the worst of her madness, though she doesn’t need to with Spike. Angel wants to admire his handiwork, not to be bothered with its tiresome consequences. Miss Edith no longer speaks out of turn, or at all. She’s Daddy’s good girl in her Sunday best. Perhaps more interestingly, when Spike has captured souled Angel, Dru reads him just as well. His regret for what he did to her - which is genuine even as he still fetishizes and admires her - oozes off of him, and she can’t tolerate the absence of his delight, and she sees that he wants to be punished if he cannot be forgiven. So she dangles his sins down in front of his eyes and drips holy water across his dead heart. In their twisted vampire way, she is still being what he wants her to be.

Something effulgent

Dru’s making of Spike mirrors and contrasts with Darla’s making of Angel. Show me your world (IIIIII CAN SHOOOOOOOOOOW YOU THE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORLD) is a plea, a command, a change. Drusilla and William are already there. You walk in worlds the others can’t begin to imagine. She isn’t up for the making of anyone, but she doesn’t need, really, to make William the Bloody. They are already there in their little world, singing their little songs. She just brings him into meter and key.

But she can’t actually bring herself to hurt him like Angel hurt her. Not because it’s wrong. I don’t think she quite could do it to someone she had any use for. She doesn’t know how to ask his permission in any clear way that he could possibly understand, of course, but she does make him an offer he couldn’t possibly refuse. Something effulgent. Do you want it? Dru knows the answer, knows the outcome, knows exactly the question that will make explicit the bridge between the moment and the inevitable. Yes. Oh, God, yes. Of course he does.

Darla and Angel have the lovely, tragic romance they do because they are cyclical characters, eternally doomed to creation and destruction, and they cannot help but be swept up in each others’ whirlwind. Spike and Drusilla work differently. Spike is linear, not the short, curt segment of human lives, but eternally reaching up and out. (This is also why he’s a narratively suitable partner for Buffy, because her mortality renders her inescapably linear.) Dru is spatial, everywhere all at once, and he must always come to her, and she can meet him anywhere.

I only dreamed you’d come.

Drusilla experiences herself as a force of nature. Past, present, and future; id, ego, and superego; even self and others, these things are all collapsed into the rush of unlife that is Drusilla. She is none and all of these things. I’m naming all the stars. I can see them. But I’ve named them all the same thing, and there’s terrible confusion.

She is a poem. No wonder Spike adores her.

Because she has none of those limitations on self, she can understand and destroy others like no other character can. Angel does this consciously and methodically, but Drusilla needs only to be pushed toward her target. It’s how she can make Giles see her as Jenny, and how she destroys Kendra with only “be in me.” Drusilla is the only vampire we meet - and may well be the only one ever - who can tactically plan to kill a Slayer. Be in me. It’s so very simple for her, and impossible for anyone else. Angel can make a Slayer cry for a couple of weeks, but ultimately, he only keeps up with a distraught Buffy in Becoming. Spike can fight and torment and eventually beat Slayers, but even his ability to sense the moment of hesitation on that one good night is a pale, reactive version of Drusilla’s insight and psychological adaptability.

Which leads us to the far more interesting question of how much does she sees of the world around her, and how much she manipulates it. There are any number of reads on this, and I change my mind with every Drusilla episode re-watch.

She sees Spike the moment before they bump into him, really, dreaming of him to Darla and Angelus. I could take the wisest and bravest knight in all the land and make him mine forever with a kiss, and though sweet William is superficially the least likely candidate ever for that honorific, it’s exactly what she does. This could just be wild chance, or Drusilla herself, with her psychic gravity so strong she sways with it, could have pulled him toward them, down this alley instead of another, eyes left instead of right to hide the tears.

Drusilla similarly has a particularly strong connection with Buffy, stronger than any vampire, even (especially) Angel and Spike. But somehow, even on first watch, it makes sense. You want to hurt her. Like you hurt me. Buffy and Dru are wrapped up and tied into one in Buffy’s dreams, and in fact Buffy has two dreams that Dru destroys Angel, when Buffy is the one who destroys Angel twice. And, though Buffy isn’t destroyed the same way Dru was, Angel does hurt her, perhaps worse in some ways, as she can understand and has to live with it. And Dru does know the future, but doesn’t know it isn’t present. To Dru, who knows her pain before it happens but cannot understand her goodness or strength, Buffy is damage in Angel’s wake before they even meet. Buffy is on her wavelength from the very beginning.

Drusilla is an engaging creation because she is eternal and completely static - she never changes, she can’t, she’s not just dead, but frozen in the moment of her death - but she is never boring or predictable. She is everyone else, but nobody else can be Dru.

victim-blaming, btvs/ats, awesome ladies, btvs/ats: spike is love's bitch

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