Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 7

2.7 Lie to Me
2.8 The Dark Age

This week’s episodes (only two… I gave you a break!) indicate the point where the series begins to turn to the far more serious and heartbreaking. Just as Buffy was weirded out around Angel when he prematurely fangulated in front of her, now Jenny is weirded out around Giles and backs away as he moves to her at the end of “The Dark Age.” “Lie to Me” is an episode where Ford (yes, that was Max from Roswell before he was Max), a boy who is dying of brain cancer, decides he wants immortality at any cost, not realizing the personal cost would be enormous. While Buffy tries to stop him, this isn’t her usual, “You don’t get it… these people are BAD” speech, because in doing so she discovers that he’s dying, and she’s heartbroken over it. The end of the episode has always made me cry (though, sadly, there will be another graveyard scene featuring Buffy and Giles later this season that will make me cry much harder) because of the beauty and simplicity of it. Giles lies to Buffy, but it does nothing to ease her pain because she knows it’s untrue. Think of the final episode of Angel, where Illyria lies to Wesley and what that lie does for him. He can momentarily convince himself that she’s telling the truth, but not so for Buffy and Giles in this scene.

One of the lies is that the good guys are stalwart and true, but as Buffy discovers in “The Dark Age,” Giles, the good guy, isn’t what he seems, and he’s made terrible mistakes in his past. We discover that Ripper was in fact his nickname when he was a daredevil in university and managed to raise a demon that has now killed several of his friends. This knowledge will begin to change the way people begin to look at each other on the show. If you can’t trust Giles, who can you trust?

These two episodes also go a long way in elaborating on the vampire lore in the Buffyverse; in “Lie to Me,” we see the tension between what the goth romantics believe to be true and the monstrous reality they don’t anticipate, and in “The Dark Age” we get a visual on the demon living inside Angel, who is at war with the souled man in there.

• Drusilla’s nails are divine. I’ve always wanted to have mine done like that: either black or deep wine colour with white tips. But alas, I keep my nails short. ;)
• Willow’s delayed reaction to what “I Touch Myself” was really about. Hannigan has perfect comic timing throughout “Lie to Me.”
• Willow is SO CUTE when Angel comes to see her: “If I say something you really don’t want to hear, do you promise not to bite me?”
• Angel saying he spends the day honing his brooding skills. That is SUCH a Joss line.
• Xander: “Yeah, I gotta go with Dead Boy on this one.” Angel: “Will you stop calling me that?!”
• The Angel lookalike walking by Angel as he complains about the clichéd clothes the vampire-lovers are wearing. Ha!
• Giles: “What? And miss the nitro-burning funny cars?”
• Spike: “I’ve known you for two minutes and I can’t stand you. I don’t really feature you living forever.”
• Xander: “Angel was in your bedroom?” Willow: “Ours is a forbidden love.”
• The graveyard scene with Buffy and Giles. So beautiful:

Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: Lie to me.
Giles: Yes, it’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.
Buffy: Liar.
• “The Dark Age”: Buffy to Xander: “You got a bit of schlub on your shoe there.”
• Jenny: “All right guys, the first thing we’re going to do is… Buffy!” Xander: “Huh? Did I fall asleep already?” LOL!!
• I love how Ethan’s always a punching bag… he’s such a wiener.
• Cordy stepping up with her big grin, wanting to help.
• “Don’t be sorry, be Giles.” This line is wonderful; at this point, just as Buffy realized in the previous episode that life gets complicated, she’s asking him just to be the same old guy she’s always known and not to change, but that’s not realistic.
• Willow to Cordy and Xander: “If you two aren’t with me 110% then get the hell out of my library!”

Did You Notice?:
• Despite how many times I’ve watched this show, I’ve never noticed how often Buffy seemed jealous of Angel in these early eps. We haven’t actually seen them out on a “date” date, and yet she’s always freaking out whenever she sees him talking to Cordy or Dru or anyone but her. Hm.
• Willow has a balcony off her room: I’m pretty sure in future episodes when we do catch glimpses of the rest of Willow’s house that it’s rather upper-middle-class, so I guess it’s safe to assume her parents have money. Interesting that Cordy hasn’t glommed onto her as a result.
• “Dark Age”: Eyghon says, “Be seeing you,” which is the same note that Ethan left Giles in “Halloween” (and, again, is a Prisoner reference).
• With Giles out of the picture, this is the first time we see Willow really take control and come up with a brilliant plan, one that may even best what Giles would have done. The scene of Angel grabbing the demon is amazing.
• One of the new viewers mentioned last week that they really enjoy the Mutant Enemy man, that little guy who says, “Grr, Argh,” at the end. I just wanted to point out that that’s actually Joss Whedon’s voice doing that. ;)

Our guest commentator this week is Cynthea Masson, someone I met at – you guessed it – Slayage! We were actually at the first one together and I didn’t meet her there other than to congratulate her – at the end of the conference she’d won the Mr. Pointy award for best paper. I’d missed her paper (I was in another panel at the time) and so I emailed her after the conference to ask if it would be possible to read it, and we struck up a friendship through email. Turns out she and I grew up pretty close to each other geographically, and one of my co-workers was a friend of hers in high school! Talk about small world… I was very excited to see her at the most recent Slayage, and after the conference she joined us at Universal Studios, as I posted here when I showed y’all a pic of Cynthea and I sopping wet after the wicked Popeye ride.

Dr. Cynthea Masson teaches medieval literature and composition at Vancouver Island University (British Columbia). Her recent Whedon publications include “‘Evil’s Spreading Sir…And It’s Not Just Over There’: Nazism in Buffy and Angel” (Monsters in the Mirror: Representations of Nazism in Post-War Popular Culture, Ed. Maartje Abbenhuis and Sara Buttsworth, 2010) and “‘It’s a Thing We Do’: Crying with Buffy and Angel” (On the Verge of Tears: Why the Movies, Television, Music, and Literature Make Us Cry, Ed. David Lavery and Michele Byers, 2010). Her fiction includes The Elijah Tree (Rebel Satori, 2009), a novel that combines theories of medieval mysticism with contemporary issues of faith and sexuality.

Take it away, Cynthea!

“What? Whating a What?”: Truth and Lies in “Lie to Me” and “The Dark Age”

Cynthea Masson

“Lie to Me” and “The Dark Age” illustrate an essential and overarching message of the entire Buffyverse: life is decisively not “terribly simple,” “the good guys” are not consistently “stalwart and true,” and “the bad guys” most certainly cannot be “easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats” (“Lie to Me”). Without spoilers, let me say that one of my favourite aspects of both Buffy and Angel is that some good guys turn bad and some bad guys turn good (and then the bad turn good again and the good turn bad again, and so on and so on). In Buffy, we learn to expect the unexpected precisely because Whedon and company continually work in figurative shades of grey. “The Dark Age” provides us with a glimpse of this technique when revelations about “good guy” Giles reveal a demon-summoning past that works against our expectations of him. Notably, in both “The Dark Age” and “Lie to Me,” Buffy must face an unexpected revelation about someone she thought she knew—both Giles and Ford harbour a “dark secret” (to borrow a phrase Buffy uses about herself in “Lie to Me”). In “good guy” vs. “bad guy” ethics, the difference between Giles and Ford hinges neither on their respective demonic associations nor on the unethical lies they tell regarding those associations, but on the choices they make (or refuse to make), in the end, to do good. Thus, alongside shades of grey, these episodes illustrate another fundamental tenant of the Buffyverse: the power of choice. “You have a choice,” Buffy says to Ford, despite the rationale he has provided for his unethical actions. “You don’t have a good choice, but you have a choice” (“Lie to Me”).

In “Lie to Me,” one site at which the “good guy” / “bad guy” dichotomy collapses is around the practice of lying. When Buffy confronts Ford on his lack of ethics, calling him “a lying scumbag,” he replies, “Everybody lies.” Given the array of lies expressed in “Lie to Me,” Ford’s retort may well be one of the episode’s prevailing truths: with the best or worst of intentions, with positive or negative results, both the apparent “good guys” and the apparent “bad guys” lie. Buffy lies habitually as she attempts to keep her slayer status a secret from people, including Ford. Angel lies to Buffy regarding Drusilla—eventually compelling Buffy to rebuke, “Don’t lie to me.” Willow, albeit by omission, lies to Buffy regarding her investigation of Ford—“You want me to lie to her?” she asks Angel. Ford blatantly lies to Buffy when he claims to have killed a vampire who, alive and well (so to speak), later appears at the school library. Ford also lies to Buffy about his true intentions in Sunnydale and, moreover, to his group of vampire-wannabes about the full extent of his plan. Meanwhile, lies of another sort influence people’s perceptions: thus, to Chanterelle, vampires are “the lonely ones”; she labels Xander’s more accurate description of vampires (“the nasty, pointy, bitey ones”) a “misconception.” Similarly, Giles believes the lie that Drusilla “was killed by an angry mob in Prague,” when, as we know, she currently resides in Sunnydale. In other words, in “Lie to Me,” virtually everyone—good or bad, for better or worse—is caught up in a lie of one sort or another.

Yet despite the profusion and, at times, apparent necessity or relative comfort of lies, truth prevails; thus, by the end of this episode, each of the lies noted in the previous paragraph has been replaced (again, for better or worse) by a respective truth. In the process, “Lie to Me” asks us to consider not only the ethics of lying but also the ethical complications of telling the truth. Is the revelation of truth necessarily good? Is truth necessary when pursuing what Richardson and Rabb call “virtue ethics” (see The Existential Joss Whedon, page 52)? When Buffy transparently lies that her vampire-slaying ruckus in the alley was merely cats fighting, Ford matter-of-factly responds, “Oh, I thought you were just slaying a vampire.” “What?” says Buffy. “Whating a what?” Having had her truth exposed by someone else, Buffy is initially flustered. “You don’t have to lie,” Ford insists. Relieved, Buffy later admits to Willow, “I don’t have to constantly worry he’s going to find out my dark secret.” Of course, Ford’s knowledge of Buffy’s truth is the very thing that incites Ford to develop (and lie about) his own “dark secret” plan. When Buffy learns from Angel that Ford is “not what he seems,” she accuses “the people [she] trusts” of being part of a “conspiracy.” Momentarily, she is unable (or, perhaps, unwilling) to distinguish truth from lies. “Virtue ethics,” it seems to me, involve not merely telling truth or lies but telling the difference between them, recognizing the intentions behind them, and making ethical choices accordingly. (One might recall here Wesley’s words in Angel’s “Not Fade Away”: “The first lesson a watcher learns is to separate truth from illusion—because in the world of magics, it's the hardest thing to do.”) “Virtue ethics” also involve the choices we make when the lies we have told or accepted are replaced by difficult truths. Buffy chooses to believe her friends and to demand that Ford make an ethical choice. (Of course, Ford makes an unethical choice, and he pays the consequences.) “Some lies are necessary. […] Sometimes the truth is worse,” asserts Angel. “I can take it. I can take the truth,” replies Buffy. Yet, as “Lie to Me” illustrates, taking the truth sometimes takes slayer strength.

“The Dark Age,” like “Lie to Me,” also portrays the complicated relationships among truth, lies, and choice. This episode brings to light a hitherto hidden aspect of Giles: his rebellious youth, complete with the practice of demon summoning. Thus the Giles that Buffy, Willow, Xander, and even Jenny know—the “fuddy-duddy” whose “diapers were tweed”—is suddenly revealed to have an unexpected and unethical past. Years earlier, instead of the tweed and books for which he is known by Buffy and others (including us), Giles sported leather, an electric guitar, and a tattoo. For Buffy, Giles’s uncharacteristic behaviour in this episode is precisely not Giles or, as she succinctly puts it, “very anti-Giles.” Xander conjectures, “Nobody can be wound as straight and narrow as Giles without a dark side erupting.” However, what the episode reveals is that the “dark side” of Giles preceded the “straight and narrow”; thus, the “straight and narrow” Giles is, arguably, a chosen construction meant to repress or replace the aptly named “Ripper” of his youth. To protect his “straight and narrow” identity, Giles lies repeatedly in this episode—not only to the police but also to Buffy. What we might ask, especially in the wake of “Lie to Me,” is whether Giles has been lying to Buffy for years by concealing his less-than-reputable past. Are friends obligated to reveal their “dark secrets” to each other? We might alternatively ask whether the “straight and narrow” Giles is a lie and, furthermore, whether Giles has been lying not only to Buffy but also to himself. Will the real Rupert Giles please stand up? “So,” Giles says aloud to his reflection in the mirror, “you’re back.” In this moment, does Giles refer to the demon Eyghon or to “Ripper”? Either way, Giles must now face a former truth he had tried, but clearly failed, to suppress. “Don’t be sorry,” Buffy later demands of him. “Be Giles.” Thus Buffy requests that Giles continue to be the man she knows and trusts. Only when Buffy confirms his current self as a truth—be Giles—can Giles admit the truth of his past to her and, consequently, move ahead (with a little help from his friends) to fight his demon(s).

The early scene in “The Dark Age” in which Buffy, Willow, and Xander discuss Giles’s fondness for school is later countered by Giles’s own admission about “studying history at Oxford and…the occult by night”: “I hated it. The tedious grind of study, the overwhelming pressure of my destiny.” Another truth is thus revealed: Giles and Buffy have more in common than they might have previously believed. Everyone makes mistakes, but mistakes—even demonic mistakes—are not necessarily apocalyptic; this, perhaps, is a lesson Buffy must learn. By the end of the episode, Giles is the subject of admiration: “I don’t see how Giles does it,” says Willow. Buffy responds, “I don’t think he has a choice.” But, of course, he did have a choice, and he chose to abandon the arguably unethical practices of his youth to pursue his responsibilities as a Watcher. “I never wanted you to see that side of me,” Giles says to Buffy. “I’m not going to lie to you,” she replies. “It was scary.” What Buffy affirmed to Angel in “Lie to Me,” she illustrates with Giles in “The Dark Age”: that is, despite the difficulties she may face in the process, Buffy—slayer of the vampyres—most certainly “can take the truth.”

Richardson, Michael J. and J. Douglas Rabb. The Existential Joss Whedon: Evil and Human Freedom in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Serenity. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2007.

Next Week:
2.9 What's My Line? Part 1
2.10 What's My Line? Part 2
2.11 Ted

Aptitude tests, bad accents, and... a bunch of malarkey. With co-host Evan Munday. You're in for a very fun treat with this one. ;)


Marebabe said...

Is it just me, or is Drusilla way creepier than any of the other vamps? Maybe it’s her dreamy, stoned-out-of-her-mind way of speaking, but something about her seems to be super-menacing and unpredictable, and you don’t dare turn your back on her. So far anyway, not even Spike scares me like Drusilla!

Willow, bless her heart, canNOT lie! She gets so totally twitchy when she’s fibbing. Even Hurley from LOST could give her a few pointers on how to be a convincing liar. And another thing I observed about Willow is the unique floor plan of her house. Most teens do not have their very own exit door as a feature of their bedroom. (I didn’t realize it was a door to a balcony. I thought it was on ground level.) MOST teens would have to sneak out a window for late-night carousing (or patrolling).

The Vampire-Wannabe Club in “Lie to Me” reminded me hilariously of the South Park episode, “Ungroundable”, where the Goth kids were mad because a new group of pretend vampires was invading their turf and drinking Clamato juice because it’s red like blood. So silly! And Diego’s ruffly, caped costume was a hoot! It reminded me of The Kids in the Hall, when Mark McKinney’s character liked to play dress-up in a vampire cape. “Mind if I swoop?” “It’s your place, man.” One other thing I noticed. One of the real vampires in this episode was named Lucius, which reminded me of Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter books. I think that the name Lucius has joined the ranks with Adolf, Saddam, Bellatrix, and other names that no one in their right mind would want to name their child.

As a long-time reader of Nik at Nite, I can remember a few times when Nikki would post a cast picture from Buffy, but with one of the faces crossed out and unflattering names like Doofus and Loser added to indicate he whom she loathed. Not being a Buffy fan yet, I wondered in passing what he could have done to so offend Nikki. Now, whenever a new male character is introduced, I wonder if we are seeing DOOFUS for the first time. I wondered that when we first saw Ford in this episode. But he ended up dead pretty quickly, so, nope, not yet. I’m on the watch for Doofus!

With only a few minutes left in “Lie to Me”, I began to wonder about the title, why it was called “Lie to Me”. And then Buffy and Giles had that wonderful bit of dialogue at the end, which was brilliant, and perfect, and also managed to further develop their characters. *happy sigh* I loved it!

I only made a couple notes on “The Dark Age”. I found it to be extra-mysterious compared to other episodes I’ve seen so far. And I couldn’t help wondering WHY on EARTH Buffy turned her back on Ethan! Fortunately, she lived to learn from her mistake!

P.S. I LOOOOVE that that is Joss Whedon’s voice doing the “Grrr, Argh” at the very end!

William the Redd said...

I love "The Dark Age." That's the point in which I realized just how complex Giles was. He'd always been the stuffy librarian with a sense of humor, now he was a man with a haunted past who was paying his penance. Leave it to Joss to create a character like that.

The Question Mark said...

@ MAREBABE: Drusilla is the craziest, creepiest person on the face of the earth.
In "Lie To Me", when we were introduced to the club of confused, dreamy-eyed young people who have been grossly misinformed about vampires, I turned to my friend and said, "It's a lot like a Twilight fan convention".

AEC said...

Both episodes this week were good, but I especially liked Lie To Me. One of my favorite lines was when Spike was talking to creepy Drusilla about the dead bird in the cage. I know Spike's a bad guy, but I'm starting to really like him!

It's also interesting to see how much the guy who plays Angel has evolved as an actor. His performance on Bones last week was beyond amazing in my opinion. That's not to say he isn't doing a great job as Angel, it's just fun being able to compare his recent performances with those in the past!

redeem147 said...

I agree about Bones, AEC. I think that was the best work I've ever seen from David. He's truly come a long way.

I loved Ms. Masson's discussion of the lies in Lie to Me. It was something I noted in the episode. The vampire wannabees all lie about their names. When Angel and Buffy tell them the truth about vampires - they don't believe it.

One problem I had with Lie to Me - the makeup is terrible. Everyone (including Angel) looks like their lips were done with a trowel. Willow's is particularly ghastly - she wears more makeup in her jammies than she does at school.

There's a shot in the episode that's always bothered me. Buffy and Angel are in her house and there's a shot through the window that looks like a voyeur's pov - only there's nobody there. It's distracting.

Spike may be evil, but he's ruled by his heart. All Buffy has to do is threaten Dru and he gives up.

In Dark Age, Giles complains about Buffy's choice of 'music'. We assume he means he likes classical, but later we see him dressed as a punk.

I don't know about their school, but two teachers at mine would never have kissed in the hall, no matter how raging their hormones.

When Ethan talks about he and Ripper going 'way back' he raises his eyebrow - and thus a popular slash couple is born.

Bit of trivia - Ford will later play Sarah's boyfriend in The Grudge.

The Dracula playing in the club is the made-for-tv Jack Palance version from 1974, which was quirky but rather good. It was directed by Dan Curtis of Dark Shadows, the story of a tortured vampire.

Robia LaMorta is a committed Christian who didn't like playing a demon.

Finally, if you have a tattoo you want to hide, that's not the top to wear, Buffy. Though it's not there when you see her back.

Cynthea said...

@ redeem147: great point about all the vampire wannabees lying about their names! And, of course, that could tie in to the vampires themselves arguably lying about their names--since, for example, "Angel" and "Spike" are names that were chosen after they became vampires.

Lesley C said...

Every week I sit down and watch the assigned episodes, every week I take good notes, every week I think "I really got the point"... THEN I read the post by Nikki and her guest of the week and am absolutely. blown. away. by the thoughtful, in-depth analysis. This week's focus on lies was especially good. Thanks, Cynthea.

Not much to add after that and all the previous comments. @Marebabe: I also find Dru to be the most terrifying vampire. Her interaction with that poor child at the beginning of Lie to Me was creep-tastic. Of course, to hear of her history with Angel was pretty creep-tastic as well.

@Question Mark: Your Twilight convention comment had me laughing out loud.

I loved Cordelia in The Dark Ages. She totally dropped Ethan on her own, and she was a team player during the library study session (even if Willow had to raise her voice). Does this mean she could officially be considered a Scooby now?

I thought it was interesting the vampire devotees in Lie to Me called them "the lonely ones." Granted, Angel spends a lot of time lonely... and brooding. But based on Spike's actions when Buffy threatens Drusilla, it seems that vampires can form attachments to one another. And Angel questions Buffy to find out if she loves him. So, if love and companionship are possibilities, why would vampires be necessarily any lonelier than humans?

And one nitpicky point: How many people know Slayers exist? How would Ford have figured out Buffy was the Slayer back when she was still in LA? Her profile fit what he knew about Slayers?

Page48 said...

@redeem147, I was just watching "The Grudge" earlier this week. Also appearing in that movie is Clea "The Invisible Girl" DuVall.

EBethToThePowerOf? said...

Drusilla is scary because she is so unpredictable: my friend and I always called her Bat$#!^ crazy Dru.
She and Spike have the best manicures;)
Spike's bird cage speech is awesome: how quickly he flips between tender, furious, sarcastic, irritable, seductive.

David Plunk said...

Since you brought it up I have to say that the Illyria and Wesley scene is one of my favorites of all of Whedon's shows. It completely breaks my heart. Amy Acker is incredible. She should be able to trademark being adorable.

I love the conversation Buffy and Giles have in the last scene of Dark Ages. It does a good job in cutting through the slayer/watcher dynamic and gets more at the daughter/father dynamic.

Efthymia said...

"Lie To Me": I agree, the vampire-loving people in the club and especially Chantrelle's speech immediately made me think of Twilight and how sad it is to glorify vampires this way (I mean, I love Spike, who is a vampire in BtVS, but not because he is a vampire and I don't love all vampires because of him).
Regardin the ethics of truth and lies, I love William Blake's "A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent."; I find it really shows that the importance lies with the intentions and not the words.
Willow is at some of her most adorable in this episode! "I'm not supposed to have boys in my room." - because THAT's the problem, not that he is a 240-year-old vampire... :)
James Marsters AND Jason Behr!? Lots of heavy drooling...

"The Dark Age": All the times I've watched this episode, I've never considered that the Giles we know may be a façade to hide Ripper behind. People change; I believe that Giles is what we know him to be now, but was different in the past. I don't think I would mistrust him for something that he did over 20 years ago - then again, you can never be sure about these things until they come knocking on your door.
Ethan Rayne is another BtVS charming villain you love to watch and love to hate (at least as far as I'm concerned). I find that the Buffy seasons I least like are the ones where the main villain is very bland and can't keep me interested.

Oh, yes, and thank you for making me want to buy another couple of books! (that was my sarcastic voice...)
I can see it happening all over again: Me, flying to London with half-empty bags, me, flying back home having paid an overwheight at the aeroport.

Missy said...


Only The Watcher's Council.
And I believe Ford saw her kill a Vamp back at Hemery High.

redeem147 said...

One thing that bothered me at the beginning - Angel tells the little boy to run - and he looks like he runs into the woods. I wonder, being Sunnydale, if he made it home.

Would it have killed Angel to take the kid home? :)

Marebabe said...

@Lesley C: Me too! Every week I find that I’ve been watching these episodes on a very superficial level. Either that, or Nikki and her band of cohorts have seen the entire series at least a dozen times! And you brought up a question I also had, about how exactly Ford came to know that Buffy is the Slayer. @Missy: I think you answered that question. Ford must have actually SEEN Buffy do some vampire-slaying. That alone wouldn’t give him a complete education about all things vampirish/slayerish, but if it sent him on a quest for knowledge, I suppose he could’ve dug up some of the same ancient volumes that Giles always has at his fingertips in that incredible library of his. So, good call!

Cynthea said...

@Marebabe: I love your expression "Nikki and her band of cohorts"--perhaps that is what we should call the group during the OMWF singalong blog. What do you think, Nikki?

JavaChick said...

Yep, Drusilla is scary because she's insane.

I totally blanked on which episode 'Lie To Me' was (other than I could remember Buffy saying "Lie to me" at some point) until I saw Jason Behr's name in the opening credits. Max! I loved Roswell. :)

I do think Giles changed in the sense that we learn & grow from our experiences. Giles would not repeat those mistakes that he made when he was young and rebelling - to me that says he has changed. As opposed to Ethan Rayne who seems to have no problem with calling on forces of evil. That doesn't mean that Giles won't make hard choices and do things that might seem questionable because if he feels it is the right thing to do.

Marebabe said...

@Cynthea: I'm usually pretty quick with decifering an FLA (four-letter acronym), but I was stumped for a good five minutes over your use of OMWF. Then I got it - "Once More With Feeling!" I've heard so much about this all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza, the thought of having to wait until S6 for it is KILLING me! (Cue the melodramatic hyperbole.)

Marebabe said...

Wow. Zoe vanished!

Anonymous said...

Loved the analysis, as always. One little thing however. You mention that Willow has a balcony but what I believe it is is a double door out into her garden. From the look of her house in I, Robot and Gingerbread I'd say it's a bungalow and unless there's a big hill on the otherside it's defo just one floor. So, I don't think the Rosenberg's are that rich just middle class "doin all right for themselves" type. No balcony though. Just a small thing but I thought I'd clarify. To be fair, it could be a balcony and it's something I generally never considered before.

Nikki Stafford said...

Good thinking on the idea that Willow's door leads to a garden and not balcony. I always think of bedrooms as being raised (and the shock on her face I took as surprise that he got up there when in fact it could have just been surprise that he was there at all).

Nikki Stafford said...

I started reading these comments last night but this is my first opportunity to respond to them!

@Marebabe: your comment about my graffiti'd pictures made me laugh out loud. The guy you're referring to will show up in season 4, so you have a while to wait for him. He's kind of my Paulo for BtVS, though I've always had a bit of sympathy for him. I'll probably be as cruel to him this time around as I've ever been...

Nikki Stafford said...

Question Mark: Lol on the Twi-con comment!

TomWill said...

Am I hyper-sensitive to spoilers or are there two in the first paragraph (Ford graveyard scene and Angel finale). I'm sorta scared to read any further.

TomWill said...

Sorry - I misread the graveyard comment to say Ford was coming back. But I feel the Angel comment could be a spoiler since I'm a noob.

Anne said...

Again excellent analysis on both episode, loving to read all the contributors and the first time wahtcher's comments

All hail Nikki for organizing this

zoe said...

Apologies! I accidentally posted something spoilery to the wrong forum! I immediately emailed Nikki asking her to delete it, but she may have noticed it and deleted it before getting my mail. I promise to be much more careful in the future! I hope it was deleted before anyone noticed it!.

Nikki Stafford said...

TomWill: there's a fine line between spoiling (giving major plot details away) and foreshadowing (creating anticipation thru subtle hints at what is to come). I don't spoil, as any of my long-time readers will tell you. Considering the many hours I have spent simply whiting out spoilers, creating separate posts and forum boards to keep this place safe for both n00bs and longtime fans, I thought that would have been pretty apparent by now. When i first suggested the rewatch, I didn't think about splitting it in two, but I did so of my own accord when I realized just how many Newbirs we would have on here, and I wanted to gve them the purest and most unspoiled experience possible. I think we've all managed to do that for you with the utmost care. In fact, someone accidentally posted a spoiler here earlier today and emailed me in a panic so I could delete it and I did so immediately. I appreciated how quickly she reacted to the situation to protect all our first-time viewers.

Nikki Stafford said...

That was supposed to say newbies. My iPhone changed it to "newbir". Lol! What the hell is a newbir??

Dusk said...

Nikki thank you for getting me properly into Buffy, have the DVds now finally and a channel on Bell plays Buffy daily so I've seen most of Season 4, some of Season 5 now. Plan on going to where we are here soon.

I've got some sympathy for Doofus but can see what you mean in your Chosen book as to why he's a Doofus.

I wonder what you think about a certain character in the last season, whom I know some conider the Zoe of Buffy, and from what I've heard, I don't like the sound of her either.

If this is too spoiler-like then of course delete it! I tried to keep it safe!

redeem147 said...

Not fond of Doofus, but I hear Justin is a Doofus fan.

I have a movie with Doofus where he plays a heavily tatted ex-con. Really.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

Could someone go to the spoiler forum and tell me who Doofus is?

Lisa(until further notice) said...

WAY off topic, but Michael Emerson was on Parentood this week. SOOO good to see him on TV again. <3

AEC said...

@Lisa(until further notice) I was SO excited to see Michael Emerson on TV again this week! I thought he did a great job on Parenthood!

Suzanne said...


As always I want to thank you again for bringing this wonderful rewatch and forum for discussion into all of our lives. Special thanks to your wonderful guest writer this week for her incredible analysis of all of the layers to the word "lie" in both episodes.

Hunter said...

I actually have to agree with TomWill. I've seen every episode of Buffy and Angel so there's nothing for me to be spoiled on, but I thought the Angel comment was a bit too spoilery. I am pretty spoiler-crazy though. I don't even watch commercials for shows I watch. Every week after Lost ended, I immediately turned it off so that I wouldn't see the preview for next week, lol. Perhaps you should put your Angel references in the spoiler section as well since some people may pick that up later. I know you said you like to foreshadow things, but some people may want to be completely surprised. Then again, it's your blog so you can do what you want, haha.

Nikki Stafford said...

I do apologize, truly, if anyone thought they were being spoiled. I actually missed a MAJOR spoiler last week in the guest post by not whiting it out for a full day after it was posted (one of the long-time viewers spotted it and emailed me) and since it was a really huge one, I'm surprised no one noticed that one before it was gone. People have been asking if me they should bother watching Angel all along, and I've said yes, they should watch it. I thought if I gave them a little kernel of enticement it would make them want to watch it more. The first-time watchers have no idea how we've held our tongues on some major events that are about to happen, and have instead engaged in the conversation in the most spoiler-free way we can.

I thought having all the help with other contributors would lessen the time this rewatch would take over the Lost one, but because I have to be so eagle-eyed about the spoilers it's taking a really long time to put each of these posts together. Just tagging it, editing it, whiting it out and uploading it is taking over an hour. That doesn't count actually watching and writing up my own post.

So if there's going to be a heightened sensitivity to spoilers and I'm going to accidentally miss something big that would upset me if you knew about it ahead of time, I'm thinking of perhaps just relegating the guest column to the spoiler forum, and switching things around. Right now the spoiler post is mostly just for people to comment on, with a few comments from me. But I could switch it so it's the big discussion centre, and over here I just point out a few things and I'm extremely careful to keep it to the episode only. The reason I haven't done that so far is because I didn't want the first-timers to miss out on the incredible guest commentary I've been able to offer you, and I've gone to great lengths to introduce you to all the major Buffy scholars while keeping things spoiler-free. But if my judgement is still going to be impaired on that and lead to upset, perhaps I'll just move them over so you guys don't risk getting spoiled at all.

There have been many Buffy rewatches over the years, but they all treat the show as a rewatch, not a first watch, and this is the only spoiler-free zone you guys are going to find to discover Buffy for the first time. I wanted to make it as rich an experience as possible, but I also don't want you to feel like you were spoiled on anything in any way, so let me know if you'd rather me just shorten the posts here, move the lengthier stuff to the other column, and leave this place open for the comments boards while the spoiler post is the one that actually has the guest commentary. Would that work better and avoid potential spoilers for you? If so, consider it done. :)

Nikki Stafford said...

Suzanne: Thank you for that! Cynthea's post was amazing, wasn't it? I just loved it when I read it.

redeem147 said...

People have been asking if me they should bother watching Angel all along, and I've said yes, they should watch it.

Bother watching? Treat yourself to watching. When people ask me which is my favourite show, I have to stop and think. It's like asking which is your favourite child. Similar but different.

And I'd hate anyone to only see David on Buffy and think that's the best he can do.

Lesley C said...

Nik - Oh, no, please don't move the guest column to the spoiler post! I love reading what the experts have to say about each episode. As I mentioned this week, I am continually amazed at the thoughtful and insightful analysis provided by you and you guest each Tuesday. I feel my newbie-watching experience would be much less rich without those analyses.

I understand that there will, inevitably, be some spoilers. (I even think I remember the one you forgot to white out last week, involving Willow and Oz.) I have actually seen a handful of Buffy episodes in the past as I caught random reruns on Oxygen when flipping through channels. So I already have some bits of knowledge about coming events. That's fine by me - I'm still enjoying discovering BtVS (more or less) for the first time.

I know organizing this rewatch and posting everything takes a lot of your time, Nik, and I am very grateful you're doing it. I've told all my friends about your blog. The Rewatch was my New Year's Resolution, no less! If you change the format due to majority vote, I will understand. But I really do love it as is.

Page48 said...

I have no issue with most spoilers. I check "morning spoilers" on io9.com everyday (when I'm supposed to be working) because I want to know about casting developments, etc...

I knew **** was going to be ****** long before I met h** character on Buffy, but it did nothing to prevent me watching and enjoying the story as it unfolded. If anything, it heightened the anticipation.

Should anyone bother watching "Angel"? It's MUST-SEE TV as far as I'm concerned. So many cross-over characters (a couple of notable and unfortunate exceptions, IMO) and great new characters. And the growth of the characters plucked from BtVS is startling in some cases.

The way I look at it, "Angel" and BtVS are part and parcel of the same story, so why limit yourself to one half or the other? That would be like ordering half a beer!

Hunter said...

Nikki, I feel terrible! I didn't mean to make you feel bad about possibly spoiling some people. You've done a great job with your posts each week and I don't think you need to change a thing. The newbies would really be missing out if they didn't get to read the guest commentary. I know you put a lot of time into this though, so do whatever you feel is best.

Marebabe said...

I pretty much agree with Lesley C. and Hunter. I hope that the guest commentary will continue to appear where the n00bs can soak it up without fear of spoilers. BUT, if it becomes necessary to change things so that the guests are only on the spoiler post, I would ask for one exception to be made. Nikki, you have announced that your husband will weigh in at least once during this rewatch-and-first-watch. Because you have shared some things about him and your kids over the years, and because I’ve actually read one example of his writing (about the much-loved bear!) I am greatly looking forward to his contribution to this year-long Buffy journey. I hope I won’t be forced to sneak over to the spoiler forum to read it, because I totally would!

Cynthea said...

As a guest writer, I too hope that our commentaries remain in the non-spoiler area. I want a chance to interact through writing with people who have never seen the show! One of the (many) reasons I agreed to be a guest writer is that you, Nikki, are providing the much needed space and opportunity for academics and non-academics to discuss the episodes together. This is something that I (as an academic) believe is crucial, and you (Nikki) are one of the few people I know who truly encourages this blended interaction. You are also providing space and opportunity for old fans and new viewers to intereact. Therefore, I vote for the guest commentaries to remain where they are. So, to all future guest writers (yes, that's you my fellow Whedon scholars!)--avoid putting spoilers into your guest commentaries. (And thanks, Suzanne, for your feedback on my commentary this week.)

Marebabe said...

Nikki, I just went back and looked at the pictures you posted on January 2nd from your visit to Universal Studios, and I just love the photo of you and Cynthea after that sopping wet ride! Back when I first read that post, the picture meant very little to me, because I didn’t know Cynthea at all. But in the weeks since then, we’ve had quite a bit of interaction here on your blog, and all of a sudden that picture has tons more meaning for me. Ohhh... so, THAT’S CYNTHEA!! How fun! Getting acquainted, making some MORE new friends! I like it. :)

Nikki Stafford said...

Don't feel badly, Hunter! I don't want you to regret your comment, because you were telling the truth.

I'm actually really glad and relieved you guys want to keep the guests; I think they're adding so much more to this rewatch than my comments are (and mine are only supplements of what's in my book).

And I actually encourage the guests to put spoilers in there, because the rewatchers want some more in-depth discussions; it's difficult to discuss Restless, for example, without talking about upcoming episodes. So I'll just be far more diligent in watching for spoilers, or ask the contributors from mid-April onwards to highlight them for me.

So! We'll continue on as scheduled (and trust me, you don't want to miss Evan's this week... I don't think his is very spoilery anyway, so there's not much for me to white out).

And thank you for that, Marebabe! I can tell you right now that my husband will be appearing the first week of November, so we have a bit of a long wait, but maybe I can persuade him to weigh in before then. He already weighs in constantly while we're watching it!! ;)

Suzanne said...


I am glad that it is looking like you will be able to keep the guest commentators in the original post since like Cynthea, I find your ability to blend the academic with the non-academic to be amazing. As an English teacher at a Community College, I have even mentioned this blog to my students as an example of the way that people of many backgrounds can discuss something, even a popular TV show, in an analytical and academic way. Thanks to you, Cynthea, and all of you other guest commentators, a diverse group of people can share their opinions and analysis freely in an in-depth manner that I have rarely seen happen on the Web.

When I watched Buffy and Angel for the first time over a year ago, I tried very hard not to read spoilers, but my thirst for analysis of the episodes led me to read some discussion boards. No matter how careful I was, I inevitably read a few things that spoiled me. However, I wouldn't trade the opportunity I had to hear other people's voices for an un-spoiled viewing of the shows.

You are doing the most incredible job of not allowing spoilers that I have ever seen in all of the time that I have spent over the years reading discussion forums, blogs, etc. I feel like we can't thank you enough for all of the time you are putting into this incredible endeavor.

TomWill said...


I think the care you have shown to be spoiler-free so far was what made me so sensitive to the Angel comment.

I want you to know I really appreciate all the work you are putting in this project and the way you are giving us "Newbirs" a safe environment to be exposed to the story just as you veterans were.

BTW, my phone also makes up words. It must be after the message is sent that they change?

Thanks again,

EsDee said...

Nikki - Do you have plans to archive all of the Buffy Rewatch posts? I have really wanted to watch with you, but just haven't been able to fit it all in my currently crazy life. I am hoping to get to it over the summer...and would love to be able to go back and read all these posts.

Marebabe said...

@EsDee: Nikki is no doubt busy today, celebrating Family Day with her lovely fam. But I can answer your question. Never fear! All of Nikki’s posts ever since her very first one (in 2006!) are right here at your fingertips. I’m sure all these Buffy posts are going to be thought of as GOLD, and preserved in the archives of this wonderful blog. In fact, some days at work when things are really slow, I’ll read through some of the lively discussion we had last year during LOST season 6, and the year before that when we had our LOST rewatch of seasons 1-5. (I was a lurker, not a commenter, before that.) Regarding this Buffy rewatch, for now I’m a n00b, so I’m staying away from the spoiler forum. But NEXT year, after I’ve seen the entire Buffy and Angel series, it’ll be wonderful to go back and read the spoilery discussion that started back in January, being familiar with all the twists and turns of the entire story. I’m so looking forward to that!

Hazel said...

redeem147, Giles has actually possessed the body of Sid Vicious:

As for the Bay City Rollers? No way: too old, wrong gender.

EsDee said...

@Marebabe - Thanks! As I will be a Buffy Noob (nOOb?? what IS the correct way to type that??) I will stay away from the spoiler forum - thanks for the tip!

Nikki Stafford said...

EsDee: Thanks for asking, and it's interesting you should ask that, because I decided I would provide an archive on the site at the end of February... i.e. later this week. So you have perfect timing. ;) What I'm going to do is create a post where I have the links for all of the individual weeks and episodes, and just keep updating it. Then I'll provide a link to that post over on the left margin so you can easily click to it and find the older posts. That way anyone can catch up!

Marebabe: Thanks for jumping in! I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who sometimes goes back to read our old Lost discussions. Sigh... how I miss those. ;)

Oh, and EsDee, it's n00b, with two zeroes in the middle (yeah, I don't know how they came up with that, either!)

verif word: "ingalis": How Kin-DRAH probably pronounces evil Angel's name.

EsDee said...

Nikki - That sounds awesome, now I can't wait for summer. I'll have all kinds of vampire fix - what with watching Buffy AND Season 4 of True Blood. With all your blog friends and contacts, got one you'd recommend currently writing on Fringe? I have a couple I read...but with LOST I regularly checked out at least 6 different blogs (YOURS 1st, of course), and I am just not finding as much being written on Fringe.

Marebabe said...

Hey, EsDee! Me again. If it’s great writing about Fringe you’re after, there’s no blog better than Fringe Bloggers!


Roco, who runs the site, is the biggest cheerleader you will ever find for the show. Even when Fringe is not on, all through the summer and fall, you can find new content and new discussions there. Nobody never loved Fringe like Roco! Although he’ll honestly critique the episodes, and point out flaws and things he didn’t particularly like. (You’ll even learn a new word there: Lowatus. Because “hiatus” seemed too happy and perky of a word to describe the bleak, dreary landscape whenever Fringe is not on.) Fair warning is given whenever spoilers are revealed. The articles are well-written, and I marvel at the level of detail and analysis. Well, sort of like Nikki when it comes to LOST or Buffy!

EsDee said...

Marebabe - Thanks so much!!