I know what it’s like. You think you matter, you think you’re a part of something, and you get dumped. It’s like the world’s still moving, but you’re stuck. You’re sinking a little deeper every day, and nobody even sees.
“This isn’t gonna be easy. Ultimate goal, we’re here to try to figure out a way of doing things that doesn’t mean us killing each other all the time. Which, let’s face it, is not how any of us are used to doing things. Me included. I’ll be honest. I have no idea how it’s gonna go…but that’s life, isn’t it?” -Buffy.
Just got my copy of the Demons of the Hellmouth (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) by Nancy Holder, with Foreword by Anthony Stewart Head. A beautiful in-universe illustrated guide written by Rupert Giles, with scribbled marginalia from Buffy (B), Willow (W), Xander (X), Faith (F), and Giles (G). (Above: cell phone photos: Cover + the first six spreads.)
This is a rant I meant to write for a long time and you’ve got @metamorpher to blame for encouraging me further.
Within the universe of “Buffy- The vampire slayer” there have been two major things for which the concept of magic was used as a metaphor: Drugs and queer sex The former is most prominent during seasons 2 and 6 while the latter was used most often during season 4, which introduced the character of Tara, our first official queer love interest. The metaphor is used in both obvious (Dawn tells us how concerned her Mother is after Dawn stated that she thought witches to be cool and it is playes as though Joyce fears her daughter might “turn gay” in Season 5, Episode 2) and subtle ways (Willow and Tara spending the nights doing spells together). The creators were told that they needed to veil the evolving gay relationship (that was back in the early 2000’s and the network wasn’t too keen on that kind of story) and the magic metaphor came in handy. In case of Tara and Willow, it is now commonly excepted that magic was used as a metaphor for queer relationships but I want to make my cause for a different character here and that character is Ethan Rayne.
Let me highlight that Ethan was the character through which we first introduced magic as a drug metaphor: In the season 2 episode “The Dark Age” we’re told about the dark past of Buffys “watcher” and father figure Rupert Giles, who misused magic to get high in his youth. Ethan Rayne is (as of “The Dark Age”) the last surviving member of Giles’ circle of friends from back then. Every time he appears (as a villain) on Buffy, he tries to bring Giles’ “bad” side and therefor his old companion back.
Ethans’ last appearance on the show was in season 4, during the episode “A New Man”, which contains some of the most blatant sexual subtext of the whole series. During that episode, we intercut scenes of Buffy and her boyfriend sparing (which is quite obviously meant to equal sex), Willow and Tara performing a spell (do I even need to point out that this is meant to be sexual also?)
^just some heterosexual gals here no subtext what so ever we’re gasping because of the magic
and Ethan and Giles getting drunk in a bar lamenting how they got old but are still “a couple of sorcerers”. Ethan goes as far as to say: “The night is still our time. Time of magic.” and they toast “to magic”. Soon after, we cut to Giles waking up in his apartment, now turned into a demon (because yes there was an actual plot in this episode not just gay subtext) and the scene visually implies the morning after a one-night stand.
Now, writer Jane Espenson stated already that she “always felt that there was something between [Giles and Ethan] when they were younger” but we never really canonized it within the series, partly perhaps because they got rid of Ethan way before speaking openly about queer relations. The point that I’m stressing is simply this: Among all the non-canon ships of Buffy, this is the one that is- at least on a metaphorical level- almost obviously hinted at more than once. Still, there are many people who believe it to be a crack ship and I think that’s got something to do with the overall bisexual erasure of Buffy. Joss Whedon made a point in stating that both Willow and later Andrew are gay once they realize their feelings for someone of the same sex even though they previously showed attraction to men/women. In the case of Ethan Rayne we lose the chance to explore his relationship with Giles further because everything Giles did in his youth is treated as dangerous folly. Here and now, he is straight even though he once regularly summoned a demon that is canonically stated to be used during orgies- with a group of friends that only had one female in it.
^The comics take on Giles’ demon conjuring life back in the 70′s
The series even made a joke during “A New Man” which had Ethan compliment the waitress and Giles thinking he was talking to him for a moment and I’d like to point out that- even though it was clearly a self-ironic comment about the sexual tension going on between those two “old friends”- Giles seems pretty smug at the moment and not that surprised.