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31 October 2003 @ 12:24 pm
the dawnverse  
How many people think that if you wrote a time-travel story in Buffy, where Buffy goes back to, say, S3 or S4, Dawn would be there? Was she created in such a way that she was actually born--they tweaked a bit of sperm in Hank's hoo-hah and made Dawn appear--and has been there for Buffy's entire life? Or are we meant to believe that the monks injected her into Buffy's life in her second year of college and created (and adapted) memories for every single person whose life Dawn would have reasonably touched--family, friends, teachers, neighbors--and also made up school records and gave her clothes and nail polish and a diary and likes and dislikes?

It breaks my head.

cousinjean's "The Butterfly Effect" posits that Dawn wouldn't be there in S2, and that makes sense to me. I mean, I could buy either theory. But sometimes I think it'd be fictionally interesting to write early stories as if Dawn were just a normal part of the landscape. You don't see that as frequently though. It's like: here's pre-Dawn Buffy, and she's motivated a certain way and has certain issues, and here's Buffy after Dawn's arrival, and her issues and her *memories* are entirely different. And if her memories are different, *how* are they different? How is she different now as a person? Shouldn't having a sister reshape your personality in key ways? But we never see the implications of that played out in canon; the show never explored how Buffy might have *believed herself* to have changed, given that she has a new set of memories.

I'm not saying this well...what I mean is, the show never talked slyly to us, the audience, to point out discrepancies that *we* would know existed even though the characters themselves didn't. Like, we never got S5 or S6 Buffy saying, "You always make it harder for me to do my job, like that time you came to parent-teacher night and that vamp grabbed you and Spike nearly caught me..." I've seen a few authors do that in fan-fiction, but the show played it safe and didn't beg the question too much.

As if I don't have my own existential crises to worry about. I have to go looking for them....
Sophia: and then (peaceful)sophia_helix on October 31st, 2003 12:54 pm (UTC)
Maybe I'm crazy, but I *do* seem to remember that kind of sly jab in, maybe early S5? It seems like there were a few times that they mentioned earlier canon events with a Dawn tweaking -- my brain is telling me either Xander or Dawn said something. But I haven't even seen all of S5 yet, so maybe I am just crazy. *g*

Anna S.: kandinskyeliade on October 31st, 2003 03:42 pm (UTC)
See, you'd think--but when I think about it I feel my own memory go all slippy and I suspect I'm remembering this from stories instead.

Where fanon blurs into canon....
Malkin Greymalkingrey on October 31st, 2003 12:57 pm (UTC)
My own private mental fanwank for this is to assume that when the monks did the insert-Dawn-and-retrofit-the-memories spell, they mostly copied over data from an alternate universe where there always was a Dawn.
Anna S.: spikeeliade on October 31st, 2003 03:42 pm (UTC)
You? Are highly clever. *g* That's such a cool idea.
J.J.jjtaylor on October 31st, 2003 01:08 pm (UTC)
I believe that Dawn would not be there - that she physically arrived in Season 5, and that everything before that was psychically planted. So, even though Buffy and the gang have memories of Dawn, they're fake memories. Even when Willow goes to retrieve Buffy from her own mind, and she witnesses the day of Joyce's return home from the hospital after Dawn's birth - it's all fake.

I think the Monks did everything that you mentioned and more - in some sort of cosmic re-ordering of the world, they implanted Dawn as if she had been there the whole time. I have to admit, the extent to which the Monks arranged Dawn's entrance into the world still surprises me - like last season on 'Angel' when Angelus called Buffy and gets Dawn (he says something like, "oh so it's the other slayer who's in L.A.) - even Angelus knows who Dawn is.
par avion: Harmony ludditerobotpar_avion on October 31st, 2003 10:50 pm (UTC)
And as cool as it was that Angelus knew about Dawn, I always felt that contradicted with the whole Angelus knows things about The Beast that Angel doesn't because Angelus was on another plane of existence when the fogetting spell was cast. Does that make the monks' spell more powerful than the beast's or is it a commentary about Angelus' nature? Or just sloppy writing?
J.J.jjtaylor on November 2nd, 2003 01:35 pm (UTC)
I had thought that the reason the gang brought back Angelus was because Angelus kept secrets from Angel - and so the gang needed to reason with Angelus to get the information that Angel couldn't access.

But, yeah, that "other plane of existence" really pokes a hole in that theory. Maybe the Monk-spell was powerful enough to reach Angelus' conciousness, even when he was buried inside of Angel.

P.S. I've only been watching Angel for the past two seasons - are there other instances of Angel/Angelus and the two minds being discussed? Do we know if Angel knows everything Angelus knows? Or the other way around? I think I might even post these questions in my journal - I'm very curious how Angel and Angelus operate.
diva_stardust on October 31st, 2003 01:20 pm (UTC)
My theory is the same as jjtaylor's. That Dawn didn't exist as a human being until six months before "Blood Ties" since that's when Buffy told Dawn the monks transformed her into glowy green ball into shiny haired girl. Only not in those exact words.

Only everyone she's ever come in contact with has memories of her that never really happened. So I guess in time travel fics you can either have what *really* happened, that being without Dawn, or the way the characters remember it, that being with Dawn.

I think it just comes down to whether or not the writer wants Dawn in their story or not.

And I think you're right, Buffy would be a lot different as a person with Dawn in her life. But it looks like the show never really wanted to go that far into it or have the other characters deal with the possibility that key things in their lives could've changed because of her.
do you want orcs? because this is how you get orcs: Pinup Boyskita0610 on October 31st, 2003 01:32 pm (UTC)
Thing that gets me (because I'm sick that way) is who would have Angelus gone after in S2? Come on. If Dawn was there? How fucking nasty could that have been? No wonder they don't Go There.
Tuesday Has No Phonesthebratqueen on October 31st, 2003 02:34 pm (UTC)
They did a series of tie-in comics that addressed how they could insert Dawn into the history. With Angelus all they did was say that Dawn was hanging around the school the day he showed up. He grabbed her first, then tossed her aside for Willow and events proceeded from there.

Not that the comics have any bearing on canon, it's just food for thought. Personally I think Angelus's valentine's present would have involved one dead sister, but that's just me.
justhuman on October 31st, 2003 01:54 pm (UTC)
I'd include Dawn just for the added interest of tweakning the story. From a meta point of view I could go either way on the topic. You might want to check with stakebait. Mer's running the Back in the Day Challenge and one of the questions the participants had to answer was Dawn- yes/no/if the author likes. Kind of an informal poll.
Dira Sudisdsudis on October 31st, 2003 02:32 pm (UTC)
I wondered about how Buffy's personality ought to be different - there's a world of difference between onlies and firsts - and I seem to remember that it *was* addressed, sorta, once: Buffy says something to Willow about 'I know it's always been this way (i.e. she's always been my little sister and stolen attention from mememememe), but it seems so much worse now.' I thought that was a pretty interesting instance of divergence between what Buffy remembers, thanks to the monks, and who she ought to be, compared to her personality, which actually *wasn't* altered. I dunno if that's possible, but I guess that's what they're asserting.
Anna S.: xandereliade on October 31st, 2003 03:44 pm (UTC)
You're right--that's a good observation. Subtle of them, but yeah. ;)
Roz Kaveneyrozk on October 31st, 2003 03:34 pm (UTC)
I've always felt that in the course of Season Five, Buffy, though still deathly tired and world-weary and sick of love, became less whiny and less self-centred. Having Dawn around changes her, for me, gradually - she mentions to Willow that Dawn is more annoying lately, but gradually the fake memories bed in and they are less irritated with each other. That, at least, I think, is what was intended, but like so much in shows that were never as perfectly written as we would like, they often forgot to do it for weeks at a time.

If people time-traveled, Dawn would not be there, and neither would the spell that holds her in place - would people from the future even notice what was missing? On the other hand, the altered memories must be interestingly fun and complex - they have to be rationalizations for what couldn't have happened rather than things which might. Angelus could not have killed Dawn because she wasn't there yet, so Angel's memories have to include a good reason why Angelus didn't.

My head hurts too.
Anna S.: kandinskyeliade on October 31st, 2003 03:47 pm (UTC)
I've always felt that in the course of Season Five, Buffy, though still deathly tired and world-weary and sick of love, became less whiny and less self-centred.

I can see that in season five. What's interesting is how Dawn more or less just becomes part of the background in 6 & 7. They eventually do address her sense of being the average Jill--there's that whole Dawn & Xander bonding thing. But I never get the sense that Buffy sees her as this interestingly unique person in her own right. (And, well, she isn't, really. She's not a very well developed character when it comes to showing us her hobbies, taste in music, deep thoughts on the world--it's mostly, "Here's Dawn! ...as she relates to Buffy.")
namastenancynamastenancy on October 31st, 2003 04:22 pm (UTC)
I love your Icon - is it a portion of a painting by Kandinsky?

namaste SF Nancy
Anna S.eliade on October 31st, 2003 04:26 pm (UTC)
Yes! :>) I love his stuff.
namastenancynamastenancy on October 31st, 2003 10:22 pm (UTC)
Check out the images at:


they have a very nice selection of his works.

namaste SF Nancy
Herself_nycherself_nyc on October 31st, 2003 04:53 pm (UTC)
I always thought it was interesting that all the characters knew that their memories of Dawn were false. Buffy learned it, and shared that with them, which almost seems odd, given Buffy's penchant for keeping things to herself.
Anna S.: spikeeliade on October 31st, 2003 05:09 pm (UTC)
I know, and it seems like if you *knew* that you'd freak out and begin questioning all sorts of stuff, including the basis for your identity, but perhaps some element of the spellwork was to make the desire to probe the inconsistencies or false memories too closely. Your desire would just sort of...slide away to your peripheral vision and disappear if you tried to focus on it.
Herself_nyc: mys1985's Spikeherself_nyc on October 31st, 2003 05:15 pm (UTC)
That explanation works for me.

I had a good time playing with this in "What She Deserves," when Spike talks about seeing Dawn for the first time and wonders if the monks planted his love for Buffy at the same time as they planted Dawn, all for a higher purpose.
Anna S.: spikeeliade on October 31st, 2003 05:56 pm (UTC)
Yes! I love that--that bit always sticks in my head now, when I think of Spike & Dawn & The Dawn Question.
Herself_nycherself_nyc on October 31st, 2003 06:05 pm (UTC)
Buffy: "Stupid monks."
KJVkjv31 on October 31st, 2003 07:05 pm (UTC)
Dawn was scheduled to be a cast member of the almost-happened cartoon series which would have been set during Buffy's high school years. I have no idea what this means or whether it should be considered canonical.
Barbrahirah on October 31st, 2003 07:56 pm (UTC)
I go by the theory that the monks retrofitted Dawn-memories into everyone, but if you went back in time, there would be no Dawn. I keep thinking there ought to be something really cool to be done with that, but so far no brilliant ideas have struck.