Once again, just because I write about a love interest in the story, does not mean I am “shipping” for or against any character. Julia is an extremely important part of the story and hence I am analysing her character. My perspective on her character has grown a lot since I wrote this but this was the second piece I ever wrote on Bebop.
So when I read or watch something which I love, I like to go deeper and explore the nuances of the story. The equation of Spike and Julia, with all its subtle depiction, is definitely one where interpretation is required. Also I know a lot of people get annoyed when you go against ‘canon’ even remotely but honestly, this show was so steeped in minimalism that canon could be a lot more than what met the eye or ears. Even the official anime guides are very vague and do not provide much information beyond what we already see on the screen. I’ll probably go into more detail on this at some point.
I write original stories and have found that often stories and characters evolve beyond their authors. Long after I have written something, I will keep finding new nuances in it so that’s why I don’t really prescribe to the idea of one interpretation being the ultimate for something. This particular piece is again just a series of more thoughts which built up post the ‘Goodnight Julia’ essay and I had to pen them down.
A little retrospective note. This piece was written before I got to my alternate take version of Bebop but funny how similar themes were emerging even here.
“I was killed once before…by a woman.” – Spike Spiegel, Asteroid Blues
Ok. So Julia is a character we see very little of in the anime. We don’t know her backstory but we know that she is someone whose name gets a strong reaction out of Spike and she was also with Vicious at some point, likely before her relationship with Spike. I guess this lack of backstory makes it easier to love or hate her completely because you can come up with your own story for her to justify either view. Backstories are extremely important in the Bebop universe and they usually run on the concept of contrasts.
For example, Spike is an easy going bounty hunter but his past is deep and dark and steeped in the underworld. Faye is a conniving con artist with money problems who uses her sensuality to her advantage but her past is a shy, naive-seeming girl born in a wealthy family. Jet is again a bounty hunter but his past, diametrically opposite to Spike, was with the police force. Ed seems to us an orphan, neglected child at first but we find out later she has a loving father who just seems to forget about her a lot. Vicious is a cold-hearted gangster who seems pure evil but at one point in his life he was a soldier….albeit he seems pretty much consistently evil and unidimensional even then but, based on Vincent’s example, maybe the war changed him and he became who he is.
So then what is Julia’s backstory? Like I said, that one is left most open to interpretation and shown the least. We even get glimpses into Vicious’ past but not hers. Her only identity in the show is established from the time that she gets involved with Spike and we don’t even see her in anything other than flashbacks till the last two episodes.
The first perception we always get of Julia is a self-sacrificing woman who is deeply in love with Spike, separated from him, and grieving for him. She is positioned as his ultimate soulmate, the woman no one can compare to, the one he can’t live without, and whose death led him to storm the entire Syndicate and kill Vicious. Basically, perfection. She seems demure, mysterious, strong, guileless, and almost angelic or divine. That was the perception I came away with too the first time I watched the show as a teen over a decade ago but then I had a lot of questions about the character the more I thought about it. Somehow, the pieces of information I had about her did not quite fit into a cohesive picture, the most oddly-shaped one being the question ‘Why did she abandon Spike and just leave him to his fate?’ The second squiggly-shaped one was ‘Even if she did that, why did she never try to contact him again? She had a lot of information on him by the end.’ And that’s where I got a sense that maybe, like the other characters, what we initially perceive of Julia is not 100% what she is supposed to be. So then, by the Bebop pattern, her second layer or backstory would be the polar opposite of who she seems to be at first glance.
Before being able to delve into her past, I wanted to build some understanding of who she was basis the information we are given of her. I always wonder what kind of woman would date a man like Vicious and there are pretty much only a few possible answers because, by any stretch of the imagination, that relationship would end up being unpleasant and most likely abusive…at least mentally, if not physically. That’s how the series depicts it too.
I read a head canon somewhere that maybe Julia met Vicious before he went off to war and he became convoluted on Titan but honestly, Vicious does not come across as the kind of man who was a saint prior to Titan either.
I also just want to say at the start that I don’t think she’s not “badass.” She appears in black leather jumpsuits as well as homely aprons so clearly there is more to her than meets the eye. She can shoot a gun and survive in a difficult world so clearly not a pansy. Everything I write about below is keeping this context in mind. But just because someone is “badass” doesn’t automatically mean they are a character to look up to.
The main characters of Bebop all belong together because they are, while ragtag and messed up, essentially good people at their core. Vicious does not fit into this description…but does Julia? I honestly don’t think so. I feel Julia was more self-serving and cunning than a casual watching of the show will leave us feeling.
So yeah, first option for Julia’s personality could be a woman seeking something from Vicious. This could be either power or protection or both. A woman who is willing to put up with the abuse he is designed to mete out in exchange for these. Like maybe someone thrown into a dangerous world by circumstances, who gets close to him to be able to survive.
The second option can be a woman who has some sort of psychological issues and hangups when it comes to relationships. Like maybe a martyr complex, the kind of woman who takes on bad partners as “projects” to try and rescue them from themselves or to change them into good human beings. Psychologists have cried themselves hoarse saying this is a bad idea and almost always ends badly for the “rescuer” but anyway. In this case, she could be anything…a gangster’s daughter, a Syndicate assassin with a heart of gold etc. etc.
When I look at these two options, they all make sense to me at first glance but then I want to look at her subsequent actions deeper to get more clues to her personality. Basis that first perception persona we have created in our heads, one would lean more toward the idea of either a woman seeking protection through her relationship with Vicious or an empath seeking to rescue people or even a mix of both. The “power-hungry” Julia is a narrative I will park for now since it seems out of place in this context, even though the Live Action does a hack job of showing just this. While writing this piece I did kind of start seeing where they were coming from but it is just so, so poorly executed that I don’t even consider it an adaption of Bebop. Anyway, ‘power-hungry’ Julia is not a version I am about to dismiss right off though. I would probably just tone it down about 1100 notches from what Netflix has shown.
So then let’s explore each of these and what they mean for her relationship with Vicious and then subsequently with Spike. If Julia is just an ultra-empath rescuer whose compass, when it comes to picking relationships, is badly broken, then her being with the narcissistic Vicious makes sense. It also makes sense for her to be led along into a doomed relationship with Spike out of an innate pattern of self-destruction and ill-guided emotional philanthropy. It means she is a broken woman and neither of these relationships are healthy for her or real. It indicates that she runs away because she does not have as much invested into her relationship with Spike as he does and is with him more as a result of her corrugated programming than true love or compatibility. She would still be a similar person if she was seeking protection through these relationships. They would still be as unreal to her and her investment would be just as little in them. The men would be in her life for a purpose and not because she loved them. Through either of these personalities, she would still not be able to reciprocate with true love. She might believe she is in love with these two men at the times when she is in relationships with them but the fact is one of them is pretty much unlovable and the other is completely opposite to him so there is no pattern here. Maybe she does love Spike out of the two but her running away from him hints at a shallow sort of love.
With these lenses, she seems to be a woman programmed to pick up toxic relationships, one who thrives on trauma bonds. I feel her equation with Vicious, if she is an empath, would be something very similar to what Gren had for him, admiring him at first and then realizing how evil he is. Vicious is a clever manipulator and she may have fallen into a Stockholm Syndrome of a relationship with him. Spike comes into her life and he is clearly a more dedicated partner who cares about her but she seems not programmed to deal with a relationship like that either. She wastes it. It’s also not a relationship which is good for either of them. It just exacerbates their cycle of mutual self-destruction.
The trauma bond situation for Julia holds true for both options of her personalities, whether as a seeker of protection from Vicious or as a “rescuer” empath. But, given her ‘perfection’ the empath theory seems more consistent.
But what kind of self-sacrificing empath would leave their partner to die and run away? Not likely.
Before we go any further, I want to digress for a while into what I think of Spike in this context. Spike in the Syndicate was clearly in with a not-so-great crowd and did not have the best character judgement either. Or rather, he was a fish out of water there and his options for company were limited. The Spike we see on screen is not a callous, evil hitman, and I would assume he never was. He doesn’t kill people just for the heck of it and doesn’t seem to get pleasure in taking life…he’s just sort of neutral about it and does it as per necessity but there is no bloodthirst in him. He probably grew up in the Syndicate world or got into it due to circumstances when fairly young and knew no other way of life, surviving, kind of going on autopilot with where his life took him. But he is also a deeply spiritual, philosophical, and disciplined man. He goes with the flow but is also capable of caring deeply and standing up for what is right even though he’s often packaged as an anti-hero in the narrative.
While Vicious would have grown powerful because he wants power, Spike is indicated to have grown in power naturally, through sheer merit, skill, and general likeability. We see loyal followers awaiting his return long after he has left the Syndicate. He is not depicted as the kind of man who would have sought the place he had in the Syndicate when he decided to leave but it probably still followed him.
How we perceive the world around us is based on who we are. I feel Syndicate Spike was probably no different. He might have seen people on the basis of who he was rather than who they were. He is not inherently evil so perhaps the pure evil in them was lost on him a bit…like he could see it but not relate to it. However, his choices of association at this time were limited to the people around him who were essentially people on the wrong side of the law. Their motivations for being there might have been very different from his. He happened to be there while they may have chosen to be there. He picks his friends and associations from them the best he can and clearly doesn’t always do a great job of it. I mean, he ends up best friends with Vicious of all things.
Is it then so implausible that the same autopilot which drove him to pick Vicious as a close friend guided him into picking Julia as a partner? Is it possible he sees her filled with inner beauty because he himself is and just imagines that she loves him back with the same intensity as he loves her? Does he miss out that she is perhaps not as pure-hearted or perfect as he thinks she is? Not as drastically evil as Vicious but maybe, while she is pleasant enough to be around, she is not the person he thinks she is at the end of the day? That she loves him for her own reasons and not with the complete, unconditional devotion he loves her with? That she is one of those people who has maybe chosen to be there unlike him? That she seems to love him but, if tested, will just abandon him? Anyone who has been in a relationship with a toxic partner can relate to this situation. We love them a lot more than they love us, we build them up to be a lot more in our heads than they truly are, we start seeing great care and consideration in the bare minimum. Those are also the relationships which are often the hardest to get over and leave us devastated in their wake as we yearn for that false image of a partner we were deluded by…a partner who was just too perfect but is still the one that got away and won’t come back.
And that brings me to the idea of a Julia motivated by power and self-interest. In Spike’s flashback during Jupiter Jazz, he hears Vicious’ voice telling him “Be careful when you’re with that woman” which is a rather ominous thing but seems out of place in the narrative of Julia as a self-sacrificing woman and is therefore usually just disregarded by viewers.
She’s definitely not “power hungry” in the caricaturized way Netflix has tried to show it. Nothing in Bebop is so over-the-top. The characters are human and the good and the bad are what make them who they are. If these happen to be Julia’s motivations, it doesn’t make her a “bad person.” It just makes her different from Spike and who he perceives her to be. It also justifies why he thinks she will act a certain way while she does something quite the opposite. However, what Vicious says seems to indicate he was aware of Spike’s relationship with her and was ok with it. But he had a reason to believe she was going to harm Spike sooner or later.
If I imagine it, I see her as being someone who was an established member of the Syndicate, perhaps someone who chose to be there by design. Perhaps she establishes herself from scratch through her own skill or is maybe born into that background and it comes naturally to her. She meets Vicious, a dangerous, powerful, up-and-coming member of the Syndicate and starts a relationship with him, perhaps motivated by a mix of attraction and the desire to cement herself further within the Syndicate. But Vicious is really not the ‘boyfriend’ type and the relationship turns abusive or they drift apart. Maybe he goes to war and comes back even more messed up than he was before. Neither of them is capable of true, pure, giving love, and likely love is never a part of their equation anyway. More like a relationship of convenience, collaboration and maybe even lust. Even if we assume she met Vicious before he joined the Syndicate, he is still the kind of man who would attract a woman looking for someone with power or the potential of power. In that case, she comes into the Syndicate with Vicious and that inserts her into this world. Either way, I feel she gravitates to Vicious due to their similarity in basic nature….self-serving and seeking power.
Now, at no point am I implying in all this that Julia seeks to be with either of these men as a complete parasite, just to build herself on their power. She does not seem like that kind of woman. But she probably gravitated toward them because they were powerful men in their own rights and she could not be with any other kind given who she herself is. To her, a relationship might also double up as an alliance. So, perhaps her relationship with Vicious is dying and Spike ends up on her doorstep. She is a beautiful, dangerous woman. She is also the kind of woman he is used to seeing in the world which he inhabits. Her kindness in taking care of him probably strikes a chord in him and they begin a secret relationship.
Spike falls for Julia and it changes him. I feel it is the act of loving itself which changes him and acts as catalyst for his realization that he is not where he belongs and wants to leave, rather than anything she does. He decides he wants to leave and assumes she wants the same thing but fails to understand that she may not completely be who he thinks she is. She is taken aback by this decision.
And that’s why I feel they end up on two different pages without quite realizing it. Julia is drawn to him because he is a powerful man, someone who is compatible with her life and status within the Syndicate. She is not necessarily “in love” with him, at-least not in the way he is in love with her. He is a more pure soul and he loves her with that programming. Loving her, loving someone, changes him, makes him come out of autopilot, makes him realize finally that the place he is in is not the place he belongs in. It’s not the place he wants to spend the rest of his life in. He would much rather have something more wholesome with the woman he loves. He doesn’t get it that the woman doesn’t want the same thing, not at what it would cost. She perhaps loves him in the same way she loved Vicious…transactionally.
Ever been in a relationship where you desperately want to build a certain kind of life with someone only to realize your partner wants something completely different? You see a happily ever after with them while they are just with you to kill time or till a better option appears. They care about you definitely but not in the same way you do. That’s Spike and Julia for me.
Maybe Vicious finds out about their affair or maybe they keep it a secret from everyone. Even if his relationship with Julia is over by this time, he would probably take it on his ego when he does eventually find out. They are aware of this but Spike’s status within the Syndicate probably protects them. Vicious is too calculated to make a move in the situation unless he sees it going his way either.
When Spike shares his intention to leave with Julia, she is concerned at the consequences but is in too deep with him by then to say no to him or is perhaps too scared. She does not seem too keen on the idea either. And then their plan is discovered by Vicious. In the insanely ritualistic and dark world they inhabit, even a plan to leave is a death sentence. With Spike renouncing the status and power afforded to him by his place in the Syndicate and becoming a hunted man, Julia knows she is toast. She put all her eggs in the wrong basket and now it’s too late.
Vicious gives her the choice of killing Spike or getting killed with him, probably intending to kill her right after either way. Julia knows this. She thinks it over, realizes she wants to do neither of these and just bolts leaving Spike to figure himself out.
She probably intends to lie low in the shadows till a development occurs which allows her to come out into the open again. Maybe the inevitable showdown between Spike and Vicious happens and one of them kills the other, or they mutually off each other, or she is able to join another Syndicate which allows her protection from the people hunting her. Three years go by and then the Red Dragons declare their fatwa on anyone associated with Vicious’ past and she realizes she has no option but to come out and seek Spike’s protection. So she calls him to the graveyard and proposes they run away together, something completely irrelevant in the current moment. To her, the fate of the Bebop crew (whom she is very much aware of) in the wake of this decision seems to matter little. Of course, by then he has figured things out and realized the truth of their relationship. Or maybe she never even ran away at-all, just went underground so it would seem that way and continued to be affiliated to Vicious.
There are some other aspects of Spike that I want to go into as well. Watanabe has mentioned in his interviews that Spike is very similar to him. He is not a straightforward guy and is not too honest about his own feelings. He is also depicted as secretly sensitive, which is why he feels the need to clamp down so hard on everything he feels and never show it. He’s fairly young and has seen a lot so this makes sense for his personality too.
He is also someone who is drawn to things which are not good for him. He is a chain smoker, gets a kick out of reckless situations which endanger his life etc. etc. and hence, to me, it feels like his entire relationship with Julia is just another link in this chain of self-destructive behavior. He subconsciously chose to be with the one woman who was definitely a one-way ticket to destruction and clung to her for dear life. I don’t feel the relationship is so much about who Julia is but rather the idea of her…the subconscious possibility she offers to him to endanger himself in a potentially fatal way. This can be a classic trait of individuals who have survived in difficult circumstances and have experienced intense trauma. Julia is to Spike what gambling is to Faye. A way of exacerbating troubles which were already unsurmountable to begin with. For Faye, paying off her debt is impossible enough without being made worse by her gambling. For Spike, being in the dangerous environment of the Syndicate was not enough but he wants to date Vicious’ girl too. Leaving the Syndicate was impossible enough but he wants to leave it with Julia in tow, making it that much more difficult.
He asks her to run away with him but she runs away by herself instead to apparently “save” him but that’s where I initially began to really question her character. She destroys the letter very poetically (and highly impractically but then we need that bit for dramatic effect and to tie in with the other scraps of things which fall during Spike’s story…shards of glass, Venus spores, snow on Callisto etc.) and disappears without bothering to warn him or trying to do anything to save him. She knows Vicious is aware of their plan and, presumably rendezvous point as well, but still just takes off on her own leaving him to deal with it all by himself. He of course walks into an ambush and fakes his own death but he could very well have died there as well. She could have tried to get a message across to him at the very least to warn and assure him but it seems like her need for self-preservation or to not be the culprit outweighed whether he lived or died. She may even have told herself she was doing it for him but that was not true.
I find the whole bit about Julia “sacrificing” herself to become hunted for Spike to be complete hokum. It makes no sense. If the scenario was set in a way where Vicious was pursuing only Julia and would not hurt Spike if she was not around, her actions make perfect sense. She becomes hunted to take the danger away from him and he’s safe and dandy. But given that Vicious’ primary target of kill WAS Spike, her actions feel like someone taking cover and abandoning the other to manage however best they can.
Prima facie, we always view Vicious as the villain in Spike and Julia’s romance, the reason why they cannot be together, but the fact is he was just a catalyst to its end. It’s the choice made by Julia to disappear leaving Spike behind which ends their romance and leaves him an anguished mess whenever she is mentioned. He is a star-crossed lover but she is not.
Because of this, I feel Spike’s quest to keep trying to find Julia is more out of a lack of closure than anything else. Of course, suppressing his own emotions, maybe he doesn’t quite realize that or doesn’t want to admit that he was not loved back as much as he loved. Or maybe he is aware of it but keeps it to himself. We anyway don’t see much of what is going on inside his head during the show. It’s all just implied. It is often assumed that he wants to find her and rebuild a life with her but the show never explicitly says this and I don’t feel it is that going by his reaction when he finally does meet her. It seems to me like he misses what he had with her, the way he felt, and wants answers to understand why that had to end.
From his perspective, he decides to leave the Syndicate and asks her to run away with him, something he believes she is the kind of woman to want as well…because he perceives her as a reflection of who he is rather than seeing her for who she is, leading him to continue feeling her loss. In truth, the process of falling in love with someone, of allowing himself to feel something for the first time, likely awakens a dormant side of him which he takes to be reflected in her. What he imagines her to be is not who she really is and that is why, while he is confident she will come with him, at the first sign of trouble, she leaves him and runs. Because he would never abandon her in that situation, he assumes she will show up for him too. It’s a testament to this one-sided commitment that he shows up at the graveyard a second time when she asks him to. The stoicism in him at this point is probably from the realization that she knew all along where he was, since she chose Faye to convey the message, and her meeting him this way is a brazen display that staying away from him was a choice she made…in a way treating him like a child who did not know what was good for him.
Anyway, she doesn’t show up on the day they are to run away, and he gets ambushed instead. A man is bound to wonder what the hell happened. He doesn’t have any way of talking to her to understand why she did what she did. He is bound to wonder if she even cared about him in the first place. Did she ever even love him or did she just leave so she could be safe while he died? So I feel he keeps trying to find her to get answers or closure.
It’s also interesting to me that when he sees Vicious on Titan, where he is expecting to find Julia, he asks him “Are you seeing Julia behind my back?” While this is meant to be a low blow to Vicious and probably something he may have said to Spike at one point, the choice of it is interesting. He could have said literally anything else but this is what pops in his mind. We as viewers often assume that Spike knows exactly what is going on but we do need to remember that while he was being ambushed by the Syndicate he did not exactly have time to have a heart to heart with Vicious to understand what was happening. He has had no contact with Julia or anyone else from his past post that either. So, for all he knows, she did not show up that day because she chose to be with Vicious or has surreptitiously been in contact with him since. He would not ask a question like that if he did not have a sense of betrayal within him or if their relationship had been a secure one. In this quip to Vicious his inner frustration reflects too. Julia is the girl he took from Vicious but now he himself doesn’t have any idea where she is and no way of getting to her.
The lines at the end of the movie “He was always alone, always by himself. Never anyone to share the game. He lived in another world. He was that kinda guy.” seem to resonate both for Vincent and also for Spike’s own final realization that during his Syndicate days he had been truly alone always as well, even when he thought he had someone he loved and who loved him. He loved her from another place than the one she loved him from, he was in ‘another world’ than the one she was in. I think the words are meant to refer to both Vincent as well as to who Spike ‘was.’ He is no longer alone but in his previous life, he realizes finally, that he always was. His ‘friendship’ with Vicious and his ‘relationship’ with Julia were both hollow caricatures he had convinced himself were real. Neither could match up to his capacity to care and love. He also did not belong in their world and hence chose to leave it.
I also don’t nix the possibility that she loved him but perhaps it was in a different way or to a lesser extent. Gren does mention that she talked a lot about him so maybe he was important to her but perhaps not in the same way as she was to him or with the same intensity. Bebop plays with the idea of contrasts deftly. People turn out to be the complete opposite of who they seem to be at first glance. Faye appears intensely mean and selfish when we meet her but we learn quickly it’s all an act. Everyone is charmed by Julia so we assume she is amazing beyond words but is she really? Is it substantiated by her actions? To me, everything she does seems motivated by a strain of self-interest, perhaps even unknown to her. Her assurance to Spike in the last episode that she will stay with him till the end sounds hollow given her earlier actions of abandoning him to die and even he doesn’t look very impressed by that promise.
And this is the reason why I cannot write off the idea of power-driven Julia completely. While definitely not in the over-the-top way the live action adaptation tried to depict it, I can very much see her being driven by her own motives which don’t always figure others into the plan. She drops Spike completely when she needs to and comes back to him when she chooses to. We do not see what she is up to in the time that she has disappeared but she seems to be doing ok when we do see her. The bright reds of her umbrella and the convertible do not hint at someone trying to lay low. When she feels the risk, she shows up again seeking Spike’s protection and wanting to run away. It makes me wonder if her talking about him to Gren is genuine nostalgia or a way of establishing Gren’s trust through depiction of her close association with someone Vicious would naturally hate.
Is she then perhaps neither the empath nor the woman seeking protection but, in fact, a manipulator? Perhaps not an intentional manipulator but one who is simply wired that way. Maybe she grew up in a world of crime just like him and insincere love is the only one she is capable of. I feel she is a bit of all three honestly.
I feel the death wish with which Syndicate Spike begins to date Julia has faded away by the time he meets her again three years later and and the certain destruction which Julia represents starts to seem like a burden. It’s not the best way for him to feel in that situation but considering the toxicity of the relationship, it makes sense. He became involved with her when he was someone else, motivated by something terrible in him, but who he is has changed since then. Their common past does not belong in the new life he lives in now and he does not know how to balance it all out. It’s also interesting that she has not evolved from that past and remains as incapable of giving back to him as she was before. She does not offer him much of an explanation or an apology when they meet. She never spends a moment acknowledging how he must have felt at her betrayal and immediately requests to run away together as if no time has passed and nothing has changed.
I think Spike feels guilt and accountability by this point at having dragged her into all of it with him but perhaps also realizes by then that she was not the right woman for him if he truly wanted to be free. Which I think he did. He just went about it in the worst possible way. From the moment she comes back into his life, we see him go into autopilot mode because he finally has to deal with the mess he created way back when. He also seems to realize the closure he had sought from her was not coming, it was something she was incapable of giving. She meets him without any of the anguish he has known for the years they were apart. She meets him with his own denied request, once again dictating the path for them, unable to sense what he needs from her in that moment or what he needed from her when last they were together. And that gives me a final validation to her personality type.
She is not on screen long enough for us to see too many dimensions of her character or her growth but somewhere we get a sense of who she is and can imagine it. We also get a sense that she does not change or grow much over the course of these three years either. Her choices are still the same, if in a different context.
Julia is depicted as the stereotypical female character-seemingly demure, emotionally suppressed, diffident, her personality dependent on the man she is with. I know we are supposed to think she is amazing and strong etc. etc. but somewhere I don’t see it. If I compare her to other female characters in the show who are remarkable as standalone, multi-faceted individuals in their own right, she doesn’t compare much. Even if I try to imagine away the events of The Real Folk Blues 2 post her reunion with Spike and see them restarting their relationship, somewhere I do not see it turning into something very wholesome. Going back to the pattern of contrasts I guess Julia’s is that she is set up to comes across as the “perfect” woman but when we look deeper we see an individual who is scared, self-serving, and incapable of selfless, unconditional love. Can I see her having a relationship with Spike again in the future were we to change the events of that episode and they were both to survive? Yes I can but it would probably end up being a very one-sided one for him where most of the emotional labor comes from his end and not hers. Perhaps only once he meets her again he realizes that she may have been his woman once but that woman belonged to a self he no longer was.
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