Yep, not a bad episode at all, because it really has made me think. I can forgive a *huge* pile of crap for "Get Bent" plus days worth of think-think!
Most of all, t's made me think about Evil. What is it in the Buffyverse, how can it be defeated, yada yada. This is all tied up with those things that Beneath You made me think about moral superiority and the Buffyverse and how I'm thinking it's the real dominant theme of this season. Lots of random thoughts occur to me here, and it appears I'm going to babble on for a loooonnnnnnng time in this post. Feel free to nod and smile as you back away slowly and carefully...
Initially, I start out by thinking that to defeat the First Evil, we need it's opposite--some kind of "First Good". But after a full day of randomly thinking about it and revisiting conversations with friends (*waves at Mint*) about it, searching on the Buffy db for 'evil', and googling around various philosphy texts, it occurs to me that going for the opposite is just the *wrong* reaction. I mean, what happens if matter and anti-matter collide? Go Boom! Not exactly the kind of solution we're lookin' for here.
The other notion about opposites that occurs to me is that the nature of opposites tends to be polar -- that is, one can be said to exist (be defined?) only in relation to the other. That is, there's no good way to define 'evil' without the notion of 'good', and vice versa? Which sorta works with the whole concept of balance as the ultimate value here -- nothingness being the result of lack of balance. Except, if I define opposites each as the lack of the other, something's missing from the equation. I mean, what does it mean to say that evil is the lack of good? Most folks would give a definition of evil that involves harm or pain or suffering or some such. But is the lack of harm, pain, suffering, etc. really what we mean when we say 'good'? That's really more of a neutral state, right? Sounds rather boring and nothingnesslike to me.
Nevermind the whole 'intent' question, at least for this moment. I'll get to that if I don't get tired before I finish babbling into this little screen. Given that this stuff has been percolating in my head for two solid days, there's a decent chance my fingers will fall off before I finish typing half of it out *g*
Okay, lost in the tangles there. Next thought: doodling around the Buffy db put me in mind of Spike's Becoming reasoning -- the world ain't perfect, but basically It's A Good Thing (no tm). Which kinda sorta led me to the notion that, in the Buffyverse, especially taking into account the atheist bent of it's creator, Evil is really more of a thing inherent in human nature than a force that can act on its own. I presume that's the whole point of the non-corporeal, has to have minions and Harbingers and suchlike to actually have an effect on the world. And certainly that's what the anvils are saying this season, a la Joyce with the whole 'it's natural, it's inside us all' speech. So, to do a sideways return to the point, using an opposite to defeat=Bad Idea. World go boom (dare I say it?) = bad.
Then I veered back to the original thought -- if the answer to defeating the First Evil is not the First Good, then what is it? In the BV, the ultimate in goodness seems to be manifest as love, defined amorphously as sometimes involving romantic feelings and sometimes not, but always as demonstration of concern for others above self. If I think about it carefully, pretty much all of the big bads have been defeated through love and togetherness... Ergo, this evil/big bad will, too. So, if it's 'love' that will defeat the FE, then the question becomes how, right?
I start to get really, *really* fuzzy on things at this point, but that won't stop me from meandering about some more on the subject :-) Maybe if I recap for myself I'll make more sense. You got your good, and you got your evil. Both living inside people/creatures. Both necessary (natural). One overcoming the other entirely seems highly undesirable, so balance between the two is what we're really after. Note to self: probably can't have a perfect balance. Another note to self: Do we really believe the writers/Joss are thinking about these metaphysical things so deeply? I hope one of them gives an interview someday that says so...
Wait. Back to the list. Natural (check) Want balance (check). Choosing love regardless of morality seems to be the key to preventing apocalypse regularly (check). Aha! New item: It's all about the power. Hammer, meet nail. Power, power, who's got the power... people do. But only if they recognize it...not sure if actual use is required or not at this point...
Anyway, If evil is helpless without a host, then FE is helpless unless there's cooperation. It thrives when folks give up and give themselves over to apathy or indifference or defeat. I'm going to say the good side can't win, but that evil can't either. The trick is going to be having people 'own' their power. Willow owning her magic as well as her geekiness, Buffy owning her slayerness as well as her womanhood, Spike owning his demonhood as well as his manhood, Dawn owning her keyness as well as her normalcy, Xander?? Anya?? I haven't thought that far. What I am pretty sure of, though, is that the only way they 'win' this is for each of them to own their own power before the FE can grab it.
Gah... I'm tired of typing. Thoughts?