The Morality of the Council
It would make sense that the Watchers Council should be Buffy's main support, yet, I think that more than once, it could be qualified as her enemy.
It's clear that Buffy does not trust the COuncil and that the Council doesn't exactly trust her either. Although their methods and choices are very different, sometimes completely opposed, their overall goal is the same.
They may appear a bit, well, uh, hard nosed, but uh, well, essentially, their agenda is the same as ours, they want to save the world and fight demons.
- Giles, Checkpoint
The Watchers well... watch. But who endowed them with this mission? The Slayer was around first, as Giles states. The First Slayer had no watcher.
I know who you are. And I can defeat you... with my intellect. I... can cripple you with my thoughts. Of course, you underestimate me. You couldn't know. You never had a watcher.
- Giles, Restless
The Council's origins are unknown, but they somehow took over the Slayer and her theirs.
Buffy... I can sense your resistance, and I don't blame you. But I think your Watcher hasn't reminded you lately of the resolute status of the players in our little game. The Council fights evil. The Slayer is the instrument by which we fight.
- Quentin Travers, Checkpoint.
They train the Slayer following ancient rules. the Slayer must just fit into the mould, be a good girl and then die. Next another Slayer is called, and it all happens again.
The Council seemed pretty absent during Buffy's first year as the Slayer. The had very little contact with Giles who was solely in charge of Buffy's training. They come back with a big bang in season three, when they show up in Sunnydale to put Buffy through the Cruciamentum, test she must pass with no powers in a concealed place and defeat a powerful vampire.
Quentin: You're having doubts. Cruciamentum is not easy... for Slayer or Watcher? But it's been done this way for a dozen centuries. Whenever a Slayer turns 18. It's a time-honored rite passage.
It's an archaic exercise in cruelty. To lock her in this... tomb... weakened, defenseless. And unleash that on her.
The Council puts the mission first. People, feelings, second. Their mission implies giving up everything else. The mission is more important than anything, for the Slayer, but for a Watcher as well.
I was ten years old when my father told me I was destined to be a Watcher. He was one, and his, uh, mother before him, and I was to be next.
Where you thrilled beyond all measure?
No, I had very definite plans about my future? I was going to be a fighter pilot. Or possibly a grocer. Well, uh,... my father gave me a very tiresome speech about, uh, responsibility and sacrifice.
- Never Kill a Boy on the First Date
Unlike Kendra, Buffy is not the perfect little Slayer. She eventually even quits the Council.
The Council's orders are to concentrate on...
Orders? I don't think I'm gonna be taking any more orders. Not from you, not from them.
You can't turn your back on the Council.
They're in England. I don't think they can tell which way my back is facing.
- Graduation Day
But I guess we can't say she ever really actually listened to them that much though!
Giles used to be part of this Council. And for years all they ever did was give me orders.
Ever obey them?
Sure. The ones I was going to do anyway.
- This Year's Girl
As they solely focus on the mission, they also have principals and positions that have probably never changed once. Despite the fact that the Cruciamentum has likely caused the death of several Slayers, they still go through with it.
And believe me, once this is all over, your Buffy will be stronger for it.
Or dead for it.
The turning point for Buffy is when Angel is poisoned by Faith. The Council knows how to save him, but refuse to help because he's a vampire, despite all the good he's done and how much he's helped their cause.
Did you reach the Council?
Yes. They couldn't help.
Wouldn't. It's not Council policy to cure vampires.
- Graduation Day
But Faith was actually the first to question the COuncil's power. Even though Buffy never really took them seriously, she never outwardly disobeyed them.
Faith soon realises that she can do whatever she wants, and is not prepared to take any orders, especially not Wesley's.
You're actually gonna take orders from him?
That's the job. What else can we do?
Whatever we want. We"re slayers, girlfriend. the Chosen Two.
- Bad Girls
With one Slayer in prison and the other doing it freelance, the Watchers are pretty much left without a cause, so when Buffy enlists their help, they jump on the occasion to get back control of the situation.
Arrive? They're coming here? Now? W-why do they have to come here?
At first Buffy is pretty uncooperative. They want to put her through several tests in exchange of info on Glory. And when they start threatening Giles, she has no choice.
But Buffy realises that the Council needs her and that she can do things her way.
You guys didn't come all the way from england to determine whether or not I was good enough to be let back in. You came to beg me to let you back in. To give your jobs, your lives some semblance of meaning.
- Buffy, Checkpoint
I guess that after all, the Council isn't so much about the fight against evil, it's about power. The power they hold leading the fight against evil, the auto-satisfaction they get from so-called saving the world.
It's power play, that's what it is? It's about who has the power.