Buffy’s “Empty Places”: Deconstructing Merit, Luck, and Betterment
Anyone who’s spent five minutes with me knows that I love ranty metas, and Buffy’s “Empty Places” is something I’ve wanted to tackle since I finished it. However, rather than try to unravel the entirety of that shit-show conversation I want to focus in on what Anya says near the end.
You really do think you’re better than we are. But we don’t know. We don’t know if you’re actually better. I mean, you came into the world with certain advantages, sure. I mean, that’s the legacy. But you didn’t earn it. You didn’t work for it. You’ve never had anybody come up to you and say you deserve these things more than anyone else. They were just handed to you. So that doesn’t make you better than us. It makes you luckier than us.
Here Anya lays out three important questions that I think are crucial to interpreting the Buffyverse.
- Did Buffy “earn” her power?
- Is she “luckier” than her friends?
- Is Buffy “better” than her friends? And what exactly does “better” mean in this context?
Honestly, I still stand amazed that Anya can even voice the first two questions among Buffy’s friends and not get immediate, wicked backlash. Admittedly her use of “luckier” could be interpreted to mean “randomly,” but her word choice is still significant. Buffy is by no stretch of the imagination lucky. Does her calling give her purpose? Yes. Does it give her cool superpowers? Absolutely. But none of these benefits are free gifts—they’re balanced, even outweighed, by her responsibilities. This calling means that Buffy has no other options in her life, no career or family as a ‘normal’ person would experience it. Her powers are to keep herself and others safe, not to have fun with. Buffy didn’t win the freaking lottery here, this life was forced on her.