Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 4: Part 2

1.12 Prophecy Girl

(If you are reading this before the post above it, go there first and then read this one.) And this week we come to the end of season 1, with an amazing episode that gives you a sense of how the show will continue from this point on. If you liked “Prophecy Girl,” which is season 1 at its funniest and most heartbreaking, I think you’re in for a treat in season 2. The highlight of this episode is, for me, the rooftop scene between Buffy and the Master. I remember being absolutely delighted by it the first time I watched, and “You have fruit punch mouth” was my favourite phrase uttered by Buffy up to that point (and still is very near the top). We see Buffy’s playful banter and enough funny to keep us from being utterly depressed.

But we also begin to see the dark side of the show. Buffy’s scene as she stands in the doorway and overhears Giles is a tear-jerker, and despite her bravado and toughness to this point, you realize she’s a girl. A young, teenage girl. She’s supposed to have her whole life ahead of her, but most Slayers are dead before they hit their 18th birthday, and that’s only starting to resonate with her.

And then there’s Xander. He has the guts to ask out Buffy, and when she says no, he’s MEAN. My heart breaks for him, and then you just want to slap him. But that’s Xander… you’ll watch him, time and again, lash out when he’s in pain. He is the heart of the show in the way Hurley was on Lost, but he also has a dark side, and revenge is often sitting in his back pocket to use whenever he’s upset. However, Xander knows who his friends are and what counts, and despite listening to the Music of Pain, he will come through in the end.

Highlights:
• Written and directed by Joss Whedon
• “I’m just gonna go home… lie down… and listen to some country music. The music of pain.”
• “I’m 16 years old. I don’t want to die.”
• “Oh. Good. The feeble banter portion of the fight.”
• Xander telling Angel to stop looking at his neck, and Angel being all annoyed with him.

Did You Notice?
• It’s not a coincidence that the prom dress looks like a wedding dress; Buffy is married to the Slayerhood, and her loss of a normal life is the ongoing theme of the series.
• Cordy doesn’t have her vanity plates on her car yet.
• I have to say it… the Big Moment where the theme music cues and the group Walks With Force down the street is truly awful. The biggest cheeseball moment of the first season. I will promise all the first-timers, this will NEVER happen again. (Maybe Joss Whedon, who studied with Michael Bay, took a little too much from his colleague on this one. I can just hear the theme song to “Team America: World Police” playing in the background…)

OK! This week’s second guest is Jennifer K. Stuller. I met her at Slayage 4 this past summer, and sadly missed her paper when I had to go practice my own, but from all accounts it was wicked. She is the author of Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors, which I’ve just started reading and I’m really enjoying it (it makes a great Christmas present, too!) She is a writer, blogger, author, feminist, pop culture historian, Charter Associate of the Whedon Studies Association, and Programming Director for GeekGirlCon . Her particular interests focus on what popular culture can tell us about social mores, particularly regarding gender, race, sexuality, ability, religion and class, in a given time or place. She has written for Geek Monthly and Bitch Media, on everything from James Bond to Jim Henson, to Honey West, Peggy Hill, and Quentin Tarantino, and has also contributed to several books, including Gotham City 14 Miles: 14 Essays on Why the 1960s Batman TV Series Matters , What is a Superhero?, and Critical Approaches to Comics and Graphic Novels: Theories and Methods – for which she wrote the feminist analysis chapter using 1970s Lois Lane comic books. Her most recent presentation for the Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses , as well as her other work can be found at her website.



Prophecy Girl: Subverting the Monomyth with a Feminist Kick
“I may be dead, but I’m still pretty.” – Buffy Summers

I’m thrilled to be a part of this project, honored that Nikki invited me, and excited that my first guest post is on “Prophecy Girl.” Though I’ve never been a big fan of season 1, it’s one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and in fact, probably in my top five of the series. It’s also one of those that has been most important in my work on female super and action heroes in popular culture.

Here’s why: When I went back to college as an adult to study in the wonderful undergraduate program in the Comparative History of Ideas at the University of Washington, I had the opportunity to co-create and co-facilitate a credited focus group with two other women that combined viewings of episodes of BtVS with theoretical and philosophical readings to discuss issues of human nature. I knew I wanted to write my senior thesis on female heroes in popular culture – a project that evolved into Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors – and that Buffy, created by Joss Whedon to be a feminist icon and a new vision of the hero, would play a major role in that project. So I used the course as an opportunity to get some initial research done.

Prior to our viewing of “Prophecy Girl” in the class we read works by Carl Gustav Jung, who proposed the concept of the archetype, and Joseph Campbell – author of The Hero With a Thousand Faces, an influential study of the hero myth (also called the “monomyth”). In brief, Campbell studied hero myths from around the world and found that they all contained a universal, or archetypal, series of stages and events including: The Call to Adventure or Initiation, The Refusal of the Call, A Trial or Quest, Supernatural Aid, Death and/or Descent into the Underworld, and Rebirth or Resurrection.

But this quest is generally considered a metaphor for the discovery of male identity. Women’s involvement in the hero’s journey typically limits them to the roles of the Goddess who aids, the mother, the temptress or the lover/prize. I wondered where the female heroes were, and what their journeys were like. And in discovering and studying Buffy was intrigued, moved, and fascinated by the ways in which she subverted the monomyth (and not just Buffy, but everyone around her.)

“Prophecy Girl” is a perfect example of this because it reflects back to the pilot, and as a possible series finale (BtVS was a mid-season replacement series and renewal was up in the air) allows us to see at least an initial progression of her journey.

I was going to write a more detailed episode synopsis, but don’t want to spoil it for those who have yet to watch, or be too redundant for those who already have. But in brief, in “Prophecy Girl” Giles discovers a prophecy that says that the Master shall rise and the Slayer shall die. Various portents, including an earthquake, reinforce this pending event. As Ms. Calendar says, the apocalypse is pretty seriously nigh. Buffy does indeed face the Master, and the prophecy is fulfilled, but as “prophecies are tricky things,” this all plays out in a way that might not be quite how you thought it would if you read the prophecy as literal. Buffy, as the hero, is resurrected, and comes back stronger and more resolved than ever.

Naturally, this is important to me because I want to see female characters in popular culture in heroic roles. As Joss Whedon has said, this series’ mission statement was about “the joy of female power: having it, sharing it, using it.” He also recognized the power of popular culture to change societal ideas about gender roles. Whedon’s said of Buffy that:

“people cared for her because she fulfilled a need for a female hero, which is distinctly different from a heroine. While a heroine is the protagonist, generally speaking, somebody swoops in and saves her. A hero is a more complex figure and has to deal with all the traditional rites of passage. Everything Luke Skywalker had to go through, Buffy had to go through, and then some.”

Notably, writer and director George Lucas was famously influenced by Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces – and elements of the archetypal hero’s quest can be seen in Luke Skywalker’s journey. But even with both ancient and modern female heroes – from the goddess Athena to the Amazon Princess Wonder Woman, from detective Honey West to Lt. Ellen Ripley, we never really saw those same mythic themes addressed from a female experience of the hero’s journey. That is, until Buffy Summers came along.

Whedon may not have been setting out to necessarily re-write the monomyth from a feminist perspective per se, but he definitely wanted to create a female super or action hero that would be inspirational, even iconic. Additionally, throughout the course of season 1, we do see Buffy experience the archetypal steps of the journey. From the refusal of the call to duty (asking Giles in “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” “Why can’t you people leave me alone?”) to her descent into the underworld to face the Master in “Prophecy Girl.”

But Buffy the Vampire Slayer is more than a feminist rewriting of the hero myth (which is exciting in and of itself) but of the very rules of the journey. As we’ve seen in our re/watch of season one, and without being too-spoilery as we will see throughout the series, Buffy and her allies will, as Giles points out, “thwart prophecy time and time again.” They will thrive as heroes because of their innovation, their drive, their love for one another, and their unconventional approaches to fighting the forces of darkness.

Recognizable character types such as the Hero, the Mother, the Father, the Sidekick, the Trickster, and the Villain will be tweaked. Sidekicks will become heroes themselves. We see the beginnings of these character developments in “Prophecy Girl.” Giles exhibits fatherly affection rather than a Watcher’s distance in his relationship with Buffy – even going so far as to attempt to take her place in her confrontation with the Master. Xander, a sidekick frustrated over not being a chosen one (be it hero or lover) is the heart of the group – and answers his own heroic call more than once. Cordy, seemingly the villain, aids the “Slayerettes” with her verve and quick-thinking. Angel and Willow will each eventually morph into different archetypes, and everyone will at one time or another be elevated to the role of hero. It’s exciting to me because it makes the elements that define a traditional hero flexible, and therefore relevant to a larger audience.

Prophecy, like the Slayer myth, may be written, but as Buffy tells the Master in their final confrontation, she flunked the written. (Even in a recent edition of the Season 8 comic book she says, “I never do what I’m meant for.”) Buffy does not let others decide her journey for her. From the beginning she changes the rules not only of the hero myth, but of her own Slayer myth too – and I love her for it.


Side Notes, Trivia and Random Observations
• The episode was written by Joss Whedon and it’s the first time he directs.
• Notice that Giles has a proper cup of tea, saucer and all. It’s how we remember he’s British.
• The Master is played by Mark Metcalf – a.k.a. “The Maestro” from Seinfeld.
• The Master’s sunken lair is reminiscent of the 1987 vampire classic, The Lost Boys – one of Whedon’s inspirations for BtVS.
• Whedon’s trademark horror/humor combo. The Master’s ecstatic “Yes! Yes! My time has come!” response to the earthquake is followed by his asking the Anointed One, “What do you think? A 5.1?” (My husband questioned whether or not the Master would know about the Richter scale. It was developed in 1935 and the Master was trapped in 1937, so . . . maybe.)
• Buffy’s scene with Giles where she says, “I’m 16 years old. I don’t want to die.” is gut-wrenching. The look on Giles’ face – especially when she says “You’re so useful sitting here with all of your books!” reveals he has already crossed the boundary from Watcher to father figure. (A fact later reinforced by his telling Buffy “I’m older and wiser . . . Just do what you’re told for once!”)
• Xander’s awkwardness with women is palpable. And, “Date me. . . . Date me?!?!?” is reminiscent of “Welcome to the Hellmouth” when he says to Buffy “Can I have you?”
• I forgot how hurtful Xander can be sometimes, “Guess a guy’s gotta be undead to make time with you.” Harsh, indeed.
• Robia LaMorte, who plays Jenny Calendar, was “Pearl” of Prince’s back-up dancers Diamond and Pearl.
• Angel is panting like mad, but can’t perform CPR because he has “no breath.”
• Buffy is smarter than people give her credit for at this point. She’s instinctually good at making connections and deducing things through observation.
• Buffy comments on fighting three vampires in one night. Later this will be a light evening of patrolling.
• Xander telling Buffy, “Willow’s not looking to date you – or if she is she’s playing it pretty close to the chest.” It’s a line that doesn’t have much meaning except in retrospect. But it’s hard not to read into it, or wonder about exactly how far back some character developments go.
• Buffy saying she can’t go to the dance and Joyce asking “Why? Is it written somewhere?” Brilliant. (And very clever too.)
• Buffy in Willow’s bedroom – made me think about how many more times we will see them sitting on each other’s beds having a meaningful conversation.
• Angel’s statue of Kwan Yin – like a true Bodhisattva, Angel will delay his own enlightenment to ease the suffering of others.
• Someone had to put faux Dewey Decimal labels on all those library books!
• Buffy, Xander, and Angel Power Walk to the BtVS theme music. (Is this the series’ first power walk?!?) [Yes... and it's the LAST!" — Nik]

Favorite Lines
• “Oh, look. A Bad Guy.” – Buffy, as she trips a vamp
• “I’m going to go home, lie down, and listen to country music. The music of pain.” – Xander, on being rejected. Twice.
• “The part that gets me though, is where Buffy is the Slayer. She’s so little.” – Jenny Calendar
• “Oh good. The feeble banter portion of the fight.” – The Master to Buffy (Especially because Buffy’s banter and puns will become an important, and trademark, part of her arsenal.)
• “Calm may work for Locutus of the Borg, here. But I’m freaked and I intend to stay that way!” Xander (Because we love geeky pop culture references.)
• “I told you to eat before we left.” – Xander to what he thinks is a hungry-looking Angel
• “I may be dead, but I’m still pretty.” – Buffy, on her resurrection
• “You have fruit punch mouth.” – Buffy to the Master
• “You’re that amped about Hell? Go there.” – Buffy to the Master
• “I like your dress.” – Just about everyone, to Buffy
• “We saved the world. I say we party.” – Buffy, on averting an apocalypse

43 comments:

redeem147 said...

Sarah is amazing in the library scene with Giles. I wish I could say the same for David. He spoils the scene for me. He has a long way to come before Bones.

The Porky Pig clip is eerie, particularly with the music. From the clothing, one is a student pig.

I get CPR helping with drowning, but how does it help with blood loss. The Master seemed to take a mighty good swig before he dumped her in the water.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

redeem147, also, in regard to the drowning, I noticed that after Xander performed CPR, Buffy took a deep breath and opened her eyes...then she spit out/gurgled up water.

Marebabe said...

Regarding Xander, and the way he lashes out when he’s upset and in pain, I was suddenly reminded of Harry Potter’s friend, Ron Weasley. Is having a short fuse a requirement for being a good sidekick?

The Power Walk with the Buffy theme blaring... LOL!! It really WAS like the “Team America” theme!

And in conclusion, I would like to share that I’m starting to notice Buffy connections in real life, as I did (and still do) with LOST. First of all, I have a grandnephew named Alexander, and I learned this week that his regular handle is Xander. AND a friend of ours has a large herd of elk and 5 or 6 buffalo, and the buffalo that he’s had the longest is named... Buffy! I thought that was extremely cool!

(Where's Blam when I need him?! Because my VW is gljeests!! What do you do with a word like THAT?)

karoliinahv said...

i loved the hero walk! of course i laughed out loud when i saw it (i have rewatched all the buffy before exept for the first season and had forgot about it), but still. maybe it's not the absolutely last 'walk', but i think it's the only time the theme music is played IN the series.

redeem147 said...

'Scoobie Gang, F*** yeah!'

myeck said...

The vampire breathing/not breathing thing has always annoyed me in Buffy and Angel. I wish they had thought up a different explanation for Angel not giving the CPR. If Angel had said that breath from the undead can't bring life to another, it would have worked for that purpose without giving them the endless problem of the vampires panting after running and whatnot.
Not to mention Spike getting tortured in Season 7 by having his head held under water.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

myeck...good point, but watch out for spoilers.

stacy said...

Two questions now that i have netflix streaming...Should I watch the Buffy movie? I am guessing the movie came before the series? And when does Angel's series start? I know his series isn't part of the rewatch, but I may as well watch his too.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

@stacy, I have attempted numerous times to watch the movie, and I still haven't gotten through it. I've sat down 4 different times to give it a go, and each time I only last about 15 minutes or so. Good luck to you if you make it through :)

Lisa(until further notice) said...

When that 3 headed monster with the tenticles came up from under the library and I looked closely at one of the heads, all I could see was Janice from the muppets...

Kevin Bachelder said...

The "Hero walk scene" with the theme music may be cringe worthy and cheesy the very first time you watch the series. However, when rewatching the series many people that I know, including myself, get goosebumps and do a fist pump when we see that since it signals the beginning of the Buffy we've all come to know and love.

Witness Aria said...

@stacy: Angel season 1 starts at the same time as Buffy season 4. You definitely don't want to watch it before that if this is your first time through.

Witness Aria said...

@Kevin Bachelder: Perfectly stated.

AEC said...

I have to admit to laughing out loud with Team Buffy did their walk down the road with the theme music playing, I know it was supposed to be a serious moment, but I couldn't help it! I thought it was a good episode though, and I can't wait for season 2 to start!

karoliinahv said...

*perfect*

karoliinahv said...

(sorry for the try-out comment)

i have to say a big thanks to ms. stuller - tomorrow my brother's university will have a 'star wars marathon', all three original movies in seven hours and we were talking with my brother, if we should make any t-shirts or badges for it, but as i'm not so fanatical about it, i wasn't sure what to do, until i read the perfect joss whedon quote in your post - and now i have the perfect t-shirt for the event. thank you!

Jennifer K. Stuller said...

@karoliinahv

I LOVE that shirt!!!! I WANT that shirt!!! :-)

Lesley C said...

I was busy Tuesday and Wednesday so this is my first chance to comment on the Season 1 finale. Hope some of the regulars are still checking comments, because I've got questions!

1. The anointed one was the child. He led Buffy to the Master. He shows her to the chamber, then He. Walks. Away. To where??

2. This was discussed - briefly - when Joyce was bitten by Darla. However, the show has never addressed when someone can be bitten by a vampire and live, be bitten and die, or be bitten and turned. When does the explanation happen? Because Buffy is bitten, but lives (with some CPR). Which, BTW, looked odd - Xander's hands were pushing on her esophagus!

3. Buffy is bitten. Her blood frees the master. She "dies." Then, she lives - and has some new-found, seriously steely resolve and one hell of a right hook. Why is she stronger? Is it due to the Master's bite?

4. Not really a question, but an observation. When Buffy mounts the stair to the roof to face the Master (and the Xander/Angel duo are in the hall and chaos is erupting in the library) I looked at my Netflix timer: <5 minutes to go. I just *knew* this episode was going to be continued. Then, it's wrapped up - fast!

So many great lines and moments in this finale. Thanks, Jennifer, for summing them up so well.

Anne said...

1.

This is a good question as it is never showed were he goes, however, it is not the last time we see him, so my guess is after the Master's demise he regroups and goes underground for a bit

2.

it is briefly explained in the first episode, here is the quote:

GILES: Is he, w-will he... rise again?

BUFFY: (turns back) Who?

GILES: The boy.

BUFFY: No. He's just dead.

GILES: Can you be sure?

BUFFY: To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It's like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly they're just gonna kill you. Why am I still talking to you?

Basically to become a vampire, you have to want it, be bitten, be near death and drink the blood of a vampire...which is not Buffy's case here

Also about the CPR, u are totally right no really well done, but I think her death was due to drowning not beeing bitten, I think she was hypnotized, then bitten (she didn't seem to lose that much blood), then he dropped her in the water where being hypnotised she could'nt move nor breath under

I don't think this is ever explained, but I think you could say adrenaline, or the newfound belief that she can beat this thing. You could compare this to somebody experiencing a near-death situation and feeling invincible afterwards, like nothing can touch you because you defeated death (Buffy being already abnormally strong, this would have an even greater impact)

4.

From what I hear, they had to rap it up
fast that way, because they weren't sure they would get picked up for a second season, so not to many loose ends, a satisfactory ending, but also leaving things to explore

Hope i helped...btw is this your first time watching?

if it is, are you enjoying it?

Lesley C said...

Thanks, Anne! Yes, this is my first time watching the show. I'm really enjoying it so far. However, I read all the guest recaps and comments and realize there's more mythology and philosophy to this show that I sometimes catch when watching an episode!

As a followup to the vampire bite question, I'm assuming you can be bitten and then die one of two ways: 1) the vampire sucks too much blood and you die, or 2) the vampire only sucks a little blood but you then bleed out before help arrives. One of these scenarios must have taken place in the TV room at Sunnydale in the finale, killing Mitch and all his companions.

Other random observations/questions:

If Buffy's white dress is an allegory for her marriage to the Slayer position, I noticed that Angel is the only guy around in a dark suit (very groom-like). Foreshadowing or wishful thinking on my part?

How did Xander know where to find Angel? We've seen his place before (when Darla visits) but none of the Scooby gang has visited... right?

Giles et al. reasoned that the Hellmouth was directly below the Bronze since that was where a major pack of vampires was last seen. Yet the Master, his vampire army, and the creepy worm-thing ("Tremors", anyone?) all convened on the school. So is the Hellmouth below Sunnydale? Bummer.

Several folks have mentioned Giles' father-like role to Buffy. I'm gathering that's not kosher according to Watcher by-laws. But what are the rules and regulations governing Watcher behavior? Will we learn more about Giles and his duties/appointment?

Anne said...

Hi Lesly C, as you watch, you will see that there is a lot of underlying meaning to this show, it is basically a metaphor for growing up, as you'll see the show progress, what I personally like, is that these characters face real life situations that you can relate to despite the supernatural world they live in. Everything is realistic, these characters are so well developed an complex and they actually grow in a realistic way (within the series premises of course) that you can't help but to really feel for them, like real people. Also, as you dive deeper in the mythology, you will see that there are a lot of scolars who like to analyze this series in depth.

I good site I could refer to you is

http://www.criticallytouched.com/buffy/

Every Buffy episode is reviewed in an intelligent and thoughtful that goes way in real depth (especially the later episode as it gets a lot more complex), much like here. I would watch out for the comments at the end of each review though, as then tend to be spolery. Also, you will see that this show gets better and better with each re-watch as you often get something much later on, and when you go back you see how well thought everything was, or after seeing this characters grow up, you get to see them in their innocent days, when highschool was hell...truly great tv.

Secondly, it is hard to answer the Buffy Angel question without being spolery, all I can say is stay tuned and enjoy.

Thirdly, I think you are right, Xander does not specifically now where Angel lives, but I think in his resolved mind and worry for Buffy he found out quickly. It is also possible that in an off screen moment, he asked Willow to look him up in the computer, you know being jealous of Angel and making sure he is a good guy for Buffy.

Yes the Hellmouth is directly under Sunydale, but its main power comes from underneath the school as you litterally saw its mouth under the school library in ''Prophecy Girl''

Lastly, the Giles and Buffy relationship will touched in season 2, bu addressed in more depth in season 3, more specifically an episode called ''Helpless''

Sorry i'm trying to not spoil too much, also all of you raise excellent questions

Anne said...

Also, about Buffy's white dress and being bitten by the Master is very similar to the innocence before loosing you virginity for the first time

to quote somebody from another forum:

Buffy's white prom dress is brilliant, emphasizing her virginal innocence. The maiden who is sacrificed to appease the demons (Gods). Also, the camera work seems to bring that innocence and the sexuality out: Buffy tilting her head back awaiting the Master's kiss/bite, her lips parted expectantly, the penetration of the Master's bite, very sexual moment -- similar to the first time (being terrifying and awful)

Symbolically, the sex in Prophecy Girl is depicted as monstrous and scary because that's how the characters, young and unspoiled as they are, see it. As they become more experienced sexually the sexual imagery starts to level out.

Marebabe said...

@Lesley and Anne: Great discussion! Very informative for this n00b! I'm still figuring out this world of vampires and the Slayer.

karoliinahv said...

ms. stuller: thanks for liking the shirt - it really is as lo-fi shirt-making as possible, all that's needed is a good quote and some textile paint and there you go - instant shirts for every occasion.
btw, i believe i was revered at that star wars thing.

Lesley C said...

Wow, thanks again for all the insightful answers/comments to my questions, Anne! I quickly read the synopsis of Prophecy Girl on CriticallyTouched and can tell that I'm going to enjoy MikeJer's take on BtVS. Thanks for the recommendation.

Your comments on the white dress, its implications of virginal innocence, and the sexually naive teenagers was really thought-provoking. Of the Scooby gang, Xander has shown the most sexuality to date, falling for Buffy, staring at his teachers' tight sweaters, trying to dance with Cordelia, etc. Willow's sexuality has been tied up with her not-so-secret crush on Xander. Buffy... well, she shared a pretty searing kiss with an "older" "man" (Angel) but that didn't go so well. As they're all 16 at the moment, sex should play a bigger and bigger role as they get older. I can't wait to see how that develops (ha!).

Witness Aria said...

@Lesley C: Most of your questions have been answered as well as they can be without spoiling things, but I also had another view on #3.

I think Buffy came back feeling stronger because she had faced her fear and come out the other side. I also think that's why the hypnosis wasn't effective the second time he tried it. Going in the first time, knowing she was meant to die, after having it established in Nightmares that being killed by the Master was already something she was afraid of, she was weakened by her fear. After Xander brought her back, her worst fears had come true and yet she survived. I think we all feel stronger and more empowered after we've faced up to what we fear.

I have more ideas on it as well, but they're spoilery so you're spared further rambling. :)

Bring on season 2!

Nikki Stafford said...

What a week I just had. This is the first time I've had a chance to post on here, and there's so much salty goodness to talk about! I should clarify what I meant about the Power Walk: this is the last time you'll see them do it to the Buffy theme. That song has it's place, and it is NOT as non-diegetic power music in the show. Blech.

Nikki Stafford said...

Lesley: excellent questions! I haven't read thru all the responses but I had one extra thought for why Shea suddenly stronger... But it would b a major spoiler. Maybe I'll post it on the spoiler board (and you and I need to make a date to chat in 2012!) ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

Marebabe: loved your comment about finding Buffy connections in real life!! We Losties just have that tendency, don't we?

Nikki Stafford said...

Stacy: re the movie, it's not necessary, and there is a disconnect between it and the series. Swanson's Buffy is a senior, I think, and Gellar's is a junior. The things that happen to her don't quite jive with things we find out from TV Buffy's past. But if you DO decide to watch it, it's worth it for Paul Reubens. He has a scene in it that makes me howl every time I see it, and he captures the true Whedon sense of comedy in it.

Nikki Stafford said...

Anne: great comments! I briefly touched upon the white dress in my post. For me, this episode is where Buffy truly realizes just how all-consuming (literally) this job can be, and she steps up to the task. Just as nuns are brides of Christ, Buffy is a bride to slayerdom in a way.

Anne is correct about the metaphorical nature of the show. The monsters symbolize the terror of adolescence and the confusion of puberty and responsibility of growing up. And hey, didn't we all think our high school was built on a hellmouth? ;)

Anne said...

HI Marebabe

Its really cool to see newbies on here, I can wait to read your thoughts on season 2

Witness Aria said...

I like your view on the Buffy being stronger topic, it makes a lot of sense

Also, I was wondering, as Lesley C was, if you knew how Xander knew how to find Angel?

Lesley C if you want you can register and post on the other forum, the more the merrier, second opinion is always good, watch out for spoilers though

Anyways, I love reading all of your comments

Great job Nikki for organizing and hosting this

Suzanne said...

Leslie C and Anne, I really enjoyed reading your back and forth questions and answers below. Nikki, thank you so much for providing us with this wonderful forum for enjoying our passion for Buffy. This rewatch is really wonderful on so many levels.

Witness Aria said...

@Anne: I don't think it was ever established how Xander knew where Angel lived. In my mind, I can certainly imagine him finding out after the events of the episode, Angel. Xander wanted Buffy to kill him and she didn't. He thinks he's not only a rival for Buffy's affections but a danger, so I could see him going out of his way to find where he lived in case he ever needed to hunt him down (or just to see if Buffy is spending time with Angel).

But certainly none of that happened on camera, so that's just my fill-in-the-blanks. One of the great things about this show is that you can easily feel like things still are happening, even when the cameras aren't rolling. That's one reason why there's so much Buffy fan fic (which new viewers should avoid because spoilers abound).

That's my two cents.

Anne said...

Witness Aria

Thanks for your answer, that is waht i also thought, its just Lesley C asked the question and I got really curious.

Also you are right, these characters are so realistic that they live way beyond whats seen onsceen.

Black said...

Just a little something I noticed this time around that I hadn't before: the juxtaposition between Xander's hero fantasy in 'Teacher's Pet', and his actual heroism in 'Prophecy Girl'.

In his fantasy, Buffy is a typical girl in peril: completely ineffectual - a pretty thing to be saved. And Xander is the stereotypical action movie hero: fast with the killing of bad guys, fast with the quips, able to set the hot chick's heart aflutter, and he's a guitar hero as well. It's a very juvenile type of fantasy, the likes of which most of us have probably indulged in. It's selfish in a way; reducing Buffy to an object to feed his ego.

However his true heroism is so much better than the fantasy version. Despite being rejected by Buffy earlier, he still cares enough for her to go after her and do what he can. He cares enough to approach a despised rival for help. He saves her life after her drowning, then steps back and supports her as she leads the final charge on the master. He does all this out of pure love; none of the selfish ego-stroking of his hero fantasy is present in any of his actions. I don't know if his role here technically qualifies him as a hero in the strictest sense, but in a fair world, it should. Without him, there would have been no victory for the gang. Yet I guess he's still a sidekick. He reminds me of Samwise Gamgee from 'The Lord of the Rings'. Is there a better word to describe this type of sidekick? There should be.

Marebabe said...

@Black: I so agree that there should be a different name for the breed of uber-sidekicks who not only support the hero, but literally SAVE the hero, becoming heroes themselves! It's an equal friendship.

Suzanne said...

To Black, I really enjoyed your juxtaposition of Xander's fantasy heroism vs. the reality of it in Prophecy Girl. I have always thought that Xander displays a lot more courage and many more heroic efforts than the average viewer and even members of the Scooby gang seem to give him credit for.

Blam said...


Marebabe: Where's Blam when I need him?!

I'm so sorry to have been AWOL. You got me with gljeests, though. Can I just chime in on knowing a Xander (well, a Zander — but still short for Alexander) and a Buffy during middle school instead, circa 1983-84? I say "during" rather than "in" because while I went to school with the Zander, the Buffy popped up in theater-arts camp the summer before high school.

VW: eouns — pl. n. [ee ahnz] Variant British spelling of eons: "That is my favourite colour in eouns."

Blam said...


Jennifer K. Stuller: Nice writeup, Ms. (Dr.?) Amazon! I've been prompted to check out your blog on occasion by the ComixScholars E-list and I wish I could visit more regularly.

Angel is panting like mad, but can’t perform CPR because he has “no breath.”

I never bought this conceit.

First: Even if you don't have to breathe, you couldn't if you wanted to? You have lungs. You should be able to physically take in air if you make the effort, just the way we humans can control our otherwise automated breathing (at least until we pass out). You can inhale and exhale to, say, blow out candles on a birthday cake, so you can perform CPR.

More to the point: Like the whole not-reflected-in-mirrors thing, from an in-story perspective it's just too easy to spot a vampire that way — not that anybody thinks to — and even more complicated from a practical, continuity* standpoint, because the actors have to breathe as a matter of course (as well as use forms of exhalation and such as part of their bag of tricks), so just forget it. [* I don't mean "continuity" so much in the complex-narrative sense popularized by comics here — what the TV shows now call "mythology" — but continuity in the old-school cinematic sense of making sure that hair is parted properly in successive takes of a scene, or, you know, Buffy's frickin' birthday is the same from episode to episode.]

I'm pretty sure we see vamps panting later during chase scenes and the sexytime and whatnot.

Blam said...


Lisa(UFN): I noticed that after Xander performed CPR, Buffy took a deep breath and opened her eyes...then she spit out/gurgled up water.

Oh, I really scratched my head at that one.

Stacy: Should I watch the Buffy movie?

I went back to it — for the first time since watching it on VHS not long after it came out — in anticipation for this Rewatch. The upshot is that if you have 90 minutes and you're a Buffy fan (or, in your case, you're becoming one) it's worth it for the more enjoyably campy moments and to see what I think of as an alternate-universe origin story for the series, which sprang from Joss Whedon's original script to the movie (not what ended up filmed). It has particular resonance in "Welcome to the Hellmouth" and "Prophecy Girl"; the pilot briefly references its events from the perspective of the series while the first-season finale reads to me like Whedon tweaking the movie, both in the sense of fixing it to do it right and playfully thumbing his nose at it. More thoughts are up on my blog, mostly spoiler-free inasmuch as there's anything to spoil, although under the assumption that few will be moved to go see it I do give away some of the better lines and play compare/contrast with the TV series on some points that include, with spoiler alert, one aspect of the ending.

VW: lestylu — Un "doozy" d'un outil d'√©crticure.

Blam said...


Lesley C: Xander's hands were pushing on her esophagus!

Yeah, well, Xander also staked a vamp in more-or-less his clavicle back in "The Harvest", so close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and the Harris family.

Lesley C: Why is she stronger? Is it due to the Master's bite?

... Sure! 8^) No, I think the explanations others have given are valid, but you do have to sorta read them into the "text".

Anne: Buffy's white dress

I don't think anyone else has mentioned this yet, although I've yet to read the spoiler-forum comments, but I saw the white dress and black leather jacket as a callback to Buffy's wardrobe during the climax of the 1992 movie. "Prophecy Girl" both echoes and subverts the film, from the big dance to the showdown with the ultimate enemy (Lothos in the movie, the Master here) even though timeline/continuity-wise the series springboards out of it rather than overwrites it.

VW: vantsag — Dracula expressing his desire for membership in the Screen Actors' Guild?

Anonymous said...

" the Big Moment where the theme music cues and the group Walks With Force down the street is truly awful. The biggest cheeseball moment of the first season"

Really? I thought it was hysterical, actually...a purposefully self-mocking moment. I remember reading a Whedon interview where he said he wanted to leave viewers with a satisfying/conclusive season finale, in case the show got cancelled...to me, that 'cheesy' moment was kind of an acknowledgement of how neatly everything will be tied together...a reminder that "this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and we hope you've enjoyed your half-season glimpse."

Lucky for us, the show got renwed, of course :)