And that Dawn's line "Will is like a mom to me" resonates for this reason. That Willow is the Mother figure of Season 8. Plus there's this bit from Season 7's Lies My Parents Told Me which sets up the Buffy and Willow relationship for Season 8. While Buffy is focused on the Mission and Spike, Willow is taking care of Buffy's 'child', Dawn. So Buffy is taking up the Husband/Father role, Willow takes the Wife/Mother role:
But LJ ate my meta which included analysis of quotes from Long Way Home, Anywhere But Here, Wolves at the Gate and Time of Your Life. Quotes that showed their connection, their flirtation and estrangement.
And GOD DAMMIT.
Okay, remember when Buffy says in A Beautiful Sunset that everyone who loves her is doomed to suffer and that everyone leaves, even her friends? Think about that in terms of what Willow said about how she left Buffy and kept Kennedy away to keep her safe in Anywhere But Here because she blames her closeness with Buffy as being the cause for putting Tara in a bullet's path.
Wolves at the Gate
Remember Willow's shocked reaction to discovering Buffy with Satsu in bed? How it looked like hurt and betrayal? Remember the conversation Willow had with Satsu on the plane? Willow essentially warns Satsu that Buffy is and will always be set apart by the weight of the world, by her mission. That even though Satsu is a Slayer too, Buffy is still different. Distant. Remember Buffy and Willow's talk mid-battle about how Buffy better not hurt Satsu and that they're not on each other's lists anyways? It all plays like exes who care about each other and Willow is meddling in her exes' love life so that Buffy doesn't repeat old mistakes and hurt anyone.
Time of Your Life
Remember when Willow says vampires are the most important beings in both Fray's and Buffy's life? Buffy's connection to vampires represents her attraction to her own dark side. And this is something that Willow both understands and resents because it makes Buffy distant from her friends. So when Willows says vampires are important to Buffy - isn't she bemoaning this influence that makes Buffy distant from her and their strong connection? The distance that keeps Buffy from all her friends, this distance is now a huge feature of the beleagured connection (connection is a theme!) of Buffy and Willow's relationship.
Remember the conversation Harth and Willow have that expresses Willow's understanding Buffy's feeling of failure at discovering the truth of the future? This conversation becomes about Harth calling Fray his "true love" and how when Harth is talking, it echoes Willow's own situation as Buffy is "the last thing [Willow] ever love[s]. And what in the world is stronger than love?" "Time, only time." So while Willow still feels a great connection to Buffy over two centuries in the future, that Buffy is the last thing she ever loved, so much time has passed and eroded these feelings. So that now it is Willow who has the mission where as before she was always supporting Buffy in her mission while resenting the distance. Now the distance enables Willow to manipulate Buffy and everyone around her so that Buffy eventually kills her. The significance of this act, of Buffy killing Willow, is still unraveling in the current issues.
I HATE LJ for eating up all the quotes I had. Like I had the "lez-faux" quote from Kennedy which showed her being jealous of the special connection between Buffy and Willow, while also showing Buffy's possessiveness - "My Will." But I really think this viewpoint is kind of a breakthrough for how to read Season 8. Just as discovering that Goddard intended for their to be Xander/Dracula/Renee love triangle overtones. Knowing that the Xander/Dracula connection was the writer's intent really cleared things up tremendously for my understanding Xander's arc.
Now, looking back on Buffy and Willow's relationship for this season, viewing them as estranged marrieds who divorced over giving birth to the Slayer Line only they're back together trying to work it out and keep the family intact - well, look at them as a divorced couple trying to work together because they have shared custody of the kids. But they've both moved on romantically and have other love interests.
So Willow is the Mother of the Slayer Line and the ex-Wife to Buffy in Season 8. Buffy is the Father of the Slayer Line (she even provided the phallic symbol to create the Slayer line, the Scythe, which Willow transformed through her Earth Goddess powers) and the ex-Husband of Willow who's looking to move on and trying not to hurt the ones she loves.
There's been recent discussion on Buffy Forums that Season 8 lacks romance. I think I know why it appears that way now. Because Season 8 is about the Scoobies. Remember how we complained about how there wasn't enough Scooby action in Season 7? Well, Season 7 was about explicit romance, mostly Buffy and Spike's culimination of a relationship that could be tender and loving. But Season 8 is about friendship, a friendship so close and weighted down in history that it's becoming a metaphor for romance.
In the first half of the Season, we have Buffy & Willow's strong connection. Now starting with Retreat, we have Buffy realizing her attraction to Xander who is together with Dawn. Three guesses as to how Willow is going to feel if Buffy expresses her newfound romantic interest in Xander? All the Core Scoobies here (Giles has felt removed from these proceedings for a while) are entangled in romantic associations now. The Scooby dynamic is set to boil and when is it going to boil over? Immediately prior to the finale is my guess.
To close, I'll leave you with some other themes and motifs to chew on:
- True Love: It's brought up twice, first the True Love kiss to awaken Buffy in LWH. Second, Harth calls Fray his True Love. Both times, Willow is present.
- Fairytales: If Season 8 is a fariytale, which fairytale is it?
- Motherhood and Family: Willow is called a "mom" by Dawn. She expresses regret to Kennedy in Anywhere But Here that Willow and Tara hadn't moved on and raised Dawnie as a family. She later expresses envy that Oz has a family in Retreat and that she never thought she'd have that opportunity. Willow wants to be a mom. And perhaps what's interesting is that in this context of Willow and Buffy as old marrieds who separated, this need was never met because of the devotion to the mission. Their child together was the mission, but that's always been more Buffy's than Willow's. There's a part of Willow that wants to set the mission aside, set aside her power that makes her a force, and just raise a family - to love and be loved. It makes for another strong contentious point between Willow and Buffy. Where as Oz got to grow up and become a father and family man, Willow has been set on this path towards something even more alien. She's begun to crave normalcy the way she used to crave power - now that she has power, what it's doing to her is scaring her.