Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 12

2.21 Becoming, Part 1
2.22 Becoming, Part 2

And so we come to the end of season 2, which, as someone said earlier in the season (and I have to agree), may not be the best season of Buffy, but it’s probably my favourite. And the “Becoming” two-parter might be my favourite season finale of any show. I was a little worried going into it, knowing that I hadn’t seen the episode in a few years. Would it still stand up? Especially after the consistent excellence of Lost? Would it still have its oomph?

I’m happy to say that years later, it’s full of oomph. It's oompherriffic. I wept as much this time around as I ever have.

At the beginning of the Rewatch, I sent out the list of episodes to all of the contributors and told them to sign up. But there was only one pair of episodes I’d written my name beside... and it was this one. However, after much thought I decided I’d write something about the future of the series in light of what we’ve already seen. In previous weeks, when a paper contains spoilery bits, I’ve been whiting them out. I haven’t relegated anyone to the spoiler post because I wanted everyone to be able to read the writing of all of my guests. However, you all know my writing, so I’ve decided that I’m going to post my paper in the spoiler post below, and I’ll keep my point-form notes here. To help me out this week, though, the wonderful Janet/Steve Halfyard has offered to write up this episode (thank goodness!) because the music is absolutely extraordinary. So don’t worry, you all are still getting a lovely treat this week. First, some notes:

• That horrific Oirish accent that Angel has in the first flashback. Oh my GOD it’s awful. I said a while back in the Kendra week that her accent was the worst, save one. Well, this is the ONE. I think David Boreanaz’s accent coach for this one was the Lucky Charms leprechaun. “Frosted Vampire Fangs... they’re magically delicious!” Good news, boys and girls... when Angel was first bitten, he saw red hearts, yellow moons, green clovers, and blue diamonds!

• Xander’s fish-stick re-enactment.
• Dru: “Met an old man. Didn’t like him. He got stuck in my teeth.”
• Spike: “It’s a big rock! Can’t wait to tell all my friends. They don’t have a rock this big.”
• Buffy calling Acathla the Tomb of Alfalfa. HAHA!!
• I LOVE Max Perlich as Whistler; I’ve always thought he could play Thom Yorke in a Radiohead biopic.
• Spike’s singsong voice: “Someone wasn’t wor-thy.”
• Mr. Pointy! The legendary stake. (At the Slayage conferences, the awards for best paper of the conference and best academic Whedonverse book are the Mr. Pointy awards... as these large wooden pointy awards are given out, there are always many jokes about how to get THAT into a carry-on.)
• That slow-mo run of Buffy racing into the school to find Kendra. It’s become one of the iconic scenes of the series.
• Spike: “Hello, cutie.”
• Spike and Buffy coming up with the story of them being in a band. Spike: “Well I sing.”
• Spike and Joyce making small talk. Possibly my favourite comic scene of season 2.
• Willow’s resolve face.
• Giles: “In order to be worthy, you must perform the ritual... in a tutu. You pillock.”
• Snyder: “In case you haven’t figured it out, the police in Sunnydale are deeply stupid.”
• Buffy: “You never ever got a single date in high school, did you?” Snyder: “Your point being?”
• The conversation between Xander and Giles as Xander tries to save him:
Giles: You're not real.
Xander: Sure, I'm real.
Giles: It's a trick. They get inside my head, make me see things I want.
Xander: Then why would they make you see me?
Giles: (considers) You're right. Let's go.
• Angelus: “Take all that away, what’s left??” Buffy: “ME.” YESSSSS!!!!!!
• The entire scene where Angel’s soul comes back. I don’t think a single scene had ever gutted me like that one when I first saw it.
• Oz: “We know the world didn’t end, because... check it out.”

Did You Notice?
• Giles has an Orb of Thessaluh that he uses as a paperweight; if you’ll recall, the guy who ran the magic shop says he usually sells the orbs to New Age types who use them as paperweights.
• This week’s Lost reference: Did y’all see the Hurley gravestone in Becoming?? It’s near the Alpert mausoleum. How I wish the dates on it were April 15, 1923-August 16, 1942. As I mentioned in the comments last week, David Fury was a writer on Buffy, and then went over to Lost (he wrote “Walkabout” in S1). However, I doubt that he offered up suggestions for names that he saw on props on Buffy. But weirder things have happened.
• That “to be continued” elicited a LOUD scream from me the first time around.
• When Buffy comes out as the Slayer, her mom acts like she just announced she was gay: “Are you sure you’re a vampire slayer? Have you tried NOT being a slayer?”
• The chalk drawing on the floor of the library has Kendra lying on her side, where we saw her flat on her back.
• Spike squeezes Dru until she passes out... but Angel said in “Prophecy Girl” that he doesn’t breathe.
• Joss loves his Sarah McLachlan. Listen for it in a future pivotal scene... in another season finale.
• At the end, Buffy’s wearing the overalls of sadness again from “Ted.”
• The Mutant Enemy man (the little Grr, Argh guy) says, “Ooh, I need a hug!” Aw!!

One of the key players of this episode is the score (now you see why the love theme is called "Close Your Eyes") and it just wouldn't be right to talk about "Becoming" without inviting the marvellous Steve Halfyard along to help us out. So... here she is! To read my post, proceed to the spoiler forum after reading this.

“It hurts, yes? Good. It will hurt more.”
Love, loss and music in “Becoming”

I said in an earlier post that it was a musically good decision not to overuse the love theme, and the reason for that is this double episode. As listeners as well as watchers, we are all pretty familiar with the love theme now, but not bored with it because we haven’t been bludgeoned with it at every opportunity (which sometimes happens in films that only have one big theme). Beck, I think, knew that he needed his big theme for the season finale so he saves it, tapping into its meanings in various episodes but restricting the number of outright statements of it in order to ensure maximum impact when he finally does unleash it.

The use of flashbacks is another important part of this episode, and the music for them is very distinctive, partly it uses real instruments and voices rather than just synths. Beck often adds some live woodwind, a single player who is recorded over the synths to “sweeten” the music and give it a bit more life, but the flashbacks in particularly have some unusual ‘real’ music in them. In the flashback to the first time Angel meets Drusilla, we have male voices singing the Tantum Ergo, a rather beautiful bit of chant from the catholic liturgy, seriously ancient (it’s part of the longer Pange Lingua written by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century); and then in the Romanian woods in the 1890s, we have a soaring, searing cello line when Angel is cursed. This use of real instruments lifts the music, gives it an emotional depth that is very hard to achieve with synthesized sounds (but it’s more expensive than one man sitting at a keyboard, so Buffy was being quite adventurous with its budget by increasingly using real instruments — and then there was Firefly!). Representing Angel with a cello, incidentally, reconnects him with that other suffering vampire, Louis from Interview with the Vampire, who was also scored with achingly emotional cello lines in the 1994 film.

When we (or rather, Whistler) find a bedraggled Angel in Manhattan in 1996, we get a new theme that is used several times in this flashback, but always scored differently. The first time, we have it on the cello — it’s a very sad theme, not really going anyway, just circling around the same notes, lost, somehow. We hear it again when he sees Buffy for the first time from his car outside her school: any sense of creepy stalker is countered but that sad little theme, now with the melody played on a cor anglais (very like an oboe, but lower and with a darker tone colour), and with the cello harmonizing underneath; and then after he has watched her kill her first vampire, he watches her at home, being yelled at by her mother, and then crying as she looks at herself in the bathroom mirror. First we have the theme on a clarinet – even darker colour than the cor anglais – but then it changes again, with a question and answer pattern, piano answered by Angel’s cello, as if we hear the connection that Angel makes with Buffy, hear him responding to her pain and falling in love with her.

The love theme itself also gets played on real instruments, giving it that greater emotional depth. We hear the first three notes in the computer room as Buffy realises that the lost disk holds the key to restoring Angel’s soul; and then we hear it in full when she finds the ring he gave her, now played on an alto flute (again, a darker sound than a normal flute). In both cases the theme seems to represent Buffy’s hope that perhaps she can get Angel back: certainly, it reminds us of her love for him, that it has not gone away, that she has not given up on him. But then something very unexpected happens, something that takes the whole idea of this theme in a new direction. At the end of part 1, Buffy realises that Angelus has tricked her into leaving her friends undefended and they are being attacked. She races back to the library, but we already know it is too late; before she gets there, we see Kendra killed by Drusilla. The deaths of Jenny and Kendra have one particularly horrible thing in common. They are both killed specifically to hurt other people rather than to feed — neither Angelus nor Drusilla bother to bite or to drink from their victims, but kill them by other, somehow more brutal means and leave them to be found in order to bring pain to those that love them.

As Buffy enters the school, the image goes into slow motion, and the love theme begins to play — again, the flute that represented her sense of hope has the melody. The image and the music conspire to hold us longer in this moment where we know the truth but we know that Buffy stills hopes she can save her friends: it is meant to hurt, to make our sense of her loss more acute when she kinds Kendra’s body. As she comes into the library, the melody is taken by the piano alongside the flute; and then the flute drops out, as if to say that all her hope is gone, and the theme keeps playing as Whistler tells us that we are never ready for the big moments.

There are several different ways one can read this scene. If you read the theme primarily as a love theme, perhaps it signifies Buffy’s love for her sister Slayer; if you read it as a Buffy/ Angel love theme, it reminds us that this death is the direct result of their relationship; and if it represents Buffy’s point of view, then perhaps it indicates that this is on her mind in these moments, that she feels herself responsible for what has happened to Kendra, just as she blames herself for what happened to Angel. But if you read it as a theme primarily about loss, it becomes an articulation of the things that Angelus is taking away from her He’s already taken Angel; now he takes Kendra. And in part 2, this process of stripping away from Buffy the things that she loves gains momentum. She fears she’s lost all her friends, which is why we hear the theme again as she sneaks into the hospital, having escaped from the police; she then has a row with her mother and we hear music that suggests the love theme but now it’s holding back from making an outright statement again — Beck is once more saving it for the big finish; we get it at the top of the episode in the hospital, but what we hear in both the scene with Joyce (losing her mother and her home) and then when she returns to the school (and gets expelled) references the theme by using the falling 6th and other fragments, but holds back from playing it in full.

In Part 2, there is music new and old: a new, lilting lullaby theme used for the unconscious Willow in hospital; and Jenny’s theme from “Passion” making its last appearance of the season as Giles is hypnotized into thinking that Dru is Jenny. Having her theme reinforces the illusion of it really being Jenny, even though Giles logically can’t hear it; but even more heartbreakingly, it is the version of the theme from the end of “Passion”, the graveside version that, first time round, had Giles’s voice singing the melody — so in some way, perhaps he does hear this music and is convinced by it that the illusion is real. It evokes his love for Jenny just as specifically as does the presence of Robia LaMorte playing Dru playing Jenny.

And so to the big finish. By the end of the final episode Buffy has lost Kendra, Willow is badly injured, Giles has been kidnapped and tortured, she’s been thrown out of her home and her school: and as she prepares to kill Angelus, Whistler, the (mercifully) shortlived precursor of Doyle, tells us that she still has one thing left to lose: that of course is the process of completing the circle that the love theme began and making her lose Angel yet again. This is the scene Beck has been waiting for, and we get his music in all its glory as she kills him in a scene in which love and loss are perfect partners. The sword fight is scored with the expected action music; and it is only at the moment that Angel’s glowing eyes tell us that Willow’s spell was successful that the action music drops out and the love theme begins.

It starts with the first three notes of the theme like a question mark until he says Buffy’s name and she realises it is truly Angel. The melody is the flute again, the instrument of Buffy’s hope, but something new happens in the theme: the third phrase of the theme is replaced with something different which sounds like it really might come to a happy ending – until she sees the vortex opening behind him, and instantly, the original third phrase comes back in its original form as she realizes it’s too late to save him. The theme starts again now, stripped down to just the piano — the hopeful flute is gone — as she understands what she has to do, tells him she loves him and instructs him to close his eyes (“Close your eyes” was the name he gave the cue for the CD track). I’ve talked before at how good Beck is at scoring to the visual image:, here, the music lingers so that she can stab Angel through the heart precisely on the goal note, the highest note of the second phrase, which not only mimics the physical gesture as she stabs him but rings out like a cry of anguish as he brings the rest of his ‘orchestra’ in at this point and Angel is sucked into hell.

The emotional peak the music has taken us to by this point (if you weren’t even a bit tearful, you have a heart of stone) means that we need something dramatically different to help get us to the end of the episode, and so we have the very unusual use of a song to close the episode and the series, Sarah McLachlan’s “Full of Grace.” There’s a beautiful segue — the final note of the love theme is held and merges into the opening of the song, as if they are part of the same musical idea. There are only a small number of episodes that end with songs, but McLachlan gets two season-end moments, this one and season six (ironically, the song of hers that seems to have been written for this series — "Angel" — is never used). Here we have "Full of Grace": “I never thought I could feel so low/ Oh darkness I feel like letting go/ I’m all out of strength and all out of courage/ Come and lift me from this place/ I know I could love you much better than this/ Full of grace.” The lyrics give voice to how Buffy is feeling: there is no need for dialogue (we do not hear her speak in this season again after she utters the line “Close your eyes”) and the lyrics stand in to tell her story for us as she leaves Sunnydale and apparently abandons her post as Slayer. I remember the first time I saw this, being a little pool of snivelling misery on the floor as the screen faded to black — it’s a remarkably brave and complex ending: she both wins and loses in equal measure, and the repercussions of this never entirely go away. Her willingness to be the Slayer is always compromised after this in a way that it wasn’t before. In “What’s My Line?” she toyed with the idea of handing responsibility over to Kendra, but this was because she wanted a chance at a normal life; after “Becoming,” she is always much more aware of the weight of responsibility for the choices she has to make and the repercussions of them. The end of season 2 is the moment when that weight first descends in full force, where the hopes she had that there was a chance of a normal life and a happy ever after are stripped away from her. Not only does she never get them back again, but things get progressively worse as we move through the later seasons. It hurts, yes? It will hurt more.


Marebabe said...

I didn’t take a lot of notes on “Becoming, part 1 and 2”, mainly because my husband watched it with me, and it would’ve been too distracting and irritating for him if I kept pausing the DVD. So I just let it play, and it was very enjoyable!

I loved so many things about these episodes! Hooray that Kendra’s lucky stake was named “Mr. Pointy”! And I of course spotted the Hurley gravestone, just a gravestone’s throw from the Alpert mausoleum, and I’ve developed a new LOST theory. Remember in S1, when Hurley was taking his census of the crash survivors, and he said something like, “My name’s not Hurley. It’s Hugo Reyes. Why am I called Hurley? I’m not tellin’!” I think the reason he would not reveal was that it was purely an in-joke between Darlton and Joss Whedon. I like it. I’m stickin’ with that one!

Regarding the “immolation-o-gram”, as Buffy called it, there were lots of people in the classroom who saw it. Once again, I was thinking they’d need the Men in Black to come in and “flashy-thing” everyone, so the Hellmouth secret could be preserved.
Speaking of secrets, when Buffy told her Mom that she was the Slayer, I began to fear for Joyce, expecting her demise at any moment.

At the very end, as Buffy was walking away by herself, I noticed that she was once again wearing her Overalls of Sadness. And THEN the Mutant Enemy guy saying, “Ooh, I need a hug.” How absolutely perfect! A great end to a pretty stellar season.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

Boy, first Darla says to Liam, "Close your eyes" and bite, suck...you're Angel. Then Buffy says, "Close your eyes" and wham...sword through the gut and off to hell. Poor Angeliam. I doubt he does that for a girl again...

I adore how crazy Juliet Landau plays Dru. When she does that crazy head movement and then moves in on Angel and snaps her teeth closed in a play bite...hilarious. Also when Angel fails to pull the sword out the first time and she gets so worked up..."This is so disappointing..." It's wonderful to watch.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

The episode starts with a narrator we've never heard (or even met) making it a disorienting experience.

I think Nikki is being unfair about Angel's accent - to the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

Darla says 'Close your eyes' when she turns Angel - the same thing Buffy says when she skewers him. Both times he leaves his world - the first time his humanity, the second time this earth.

Snyder reminds me of my old high school principal when he kicks Willow off Oz' lap. He actually said, over the PA "Students of the opposite sex are not to hold hands in the hall." Um, yeah.

Angel seems to find Dru by accident - he was killing the priest when she showed up.

Buffy finds the disc by accident. Or are both circumstances, bad and good, fate?

Angel becomes many things in these episodes - becomes a vampire, becomes cursed, becomes the potential destroyer of the earth.

I find Angel's reaction to fifteen year old Buffy very disturbing - Lolita with her lollipop. I think this is part of the problem I will always have with this relationship.

Buffy's concern in Nightmares was that she broke her parents up - here we find they did fight about her.

Whistler says to Angel that Buffy "must be prettier than the last Slayer." Did Angel see her too?

Dru kills Kendra without feeding as Angel did to Jenny.

Buffy is pulled in for killing Kendra but Giles doesn't even seem to be a suspect for Jenny, even though the boyfriend is usually suspected.

Spike supposedly sings in the imaginary band, and James is the singer for Ghost of the Robot (recently reformed and working on an album.) :)

Buffy wears Angel's cross again after Giles is taken.

Joyce tells Buffy that if she leaves "Don't even think about coming back." It bugs me when parents make such stupid threats.

One of the big themes in Joss' work and particularly Buffy is female empowerment. "Take that all away and what's left?" "Me."

JS said...

I too love crazy Dru! I do not understand why they want to kill every living thing. What would they eat?

When Angel sees Buffy, she was in LA, not Sunnydale, right?

My favorite funny line - Angel agreeing to Whistlers challenge - "But I don't want to dress like you."

I noticed the Hurley grave stone too.

The running in slow mo reminded me of T2 again (the first time was when she was in the hospital in Sarah Conner's tank and sweatpants.

I did not expect to see the overalls of sadness again.

Tears did well up, and I loved the music - thank you so much for that write up, it really enhances my enjoyment of the episode.

@Nikki - I can't agree with you that this was the best finale ever -- "Through the Looking Glass" holds that spot in my opinion -- but it was pretty darned good. Another Buffy finale made the EW best finale's list - S6. What do you think?

Juanita's Journal said...

The fact that Buffy spent a great deal of this episode evading the police, lowered my opinion of it. It was soooo unnecessary. All Xander had to do was tell the police that she was not responsible for what happened in the high school library.

And if Kendra had continued being the Slayer she was before meeting Buffy, she probably would have been alive. Following the Slayer rulebook worked for Kendra. Following Buffy's style of slaying did not.

And by the way . . . I am NOT a Bangel fan. So the final encounter between Buffy and Angel didn't move me.

Lesley C said...

Stupid Blogger just ate my post... Here's the short version.

Beautiful finale. I cried for 10 minutes straight, then laughed out loud (it was a watery laugh) over the Mutant Enemy man's "I need a hug."

Thanks, Steve, for another great music analysis. I actually went back and watched the final Buffy/Angel scene just to hear when the flute dropped out. Beautiful and heartbreaking.

I also noticed something in that scene. Both Buffy and Angel are dressed in black. That is quite a contrast to the S1 finale, where Buffy is in white. At the time, there was discussion that Buffy's white dress symbolized her marriage to the position of Slayer. What does the black represent here? Mourning Angel? A "real" life?

P.S. I love Spike. Seriously. The scene in the living room with Joyce was brilliant.

Bring on Season 3!

redeem147 said...

Lesley, I've learned to copy my text before I post here, so that when Blogger eats it I can try again. Sometimes open id works with my LJ ident, and sometimes I have to put in my name manually.

Verification word 'wookie' - how awesome is that?

Tom D. said...

Nikki observed; Spike squeezes Dru until she passes out... but Angel said in “Prophecy Girl” that he doesn’t breathe.

I believe that was intended to be a blood choke -- one that renders the victim unconscious by cutting off blood to the brain, rather than air to the lungs.

I'm not sure it makes much sense that you could render a vampire unconscious that way, but hey, at least it involves blood. It's always blood...

Also, Full of Grace is such a great song! I don't think anything Sarah McLachlan has done since then is remotely as good.

Efthymia said...

I was really anticipating the "Becoming" discussion partly to complain about David Boreanaz's Irish accent! I'm not a native english speaker, I wasn't annoyed by Kendra's often mocked accent, I thought James Marsters actually was English, but I could tell THAT Irish accent was horrible. It's actally painful to watch, and thank heavens it doesn't last long! Urgh!

I am SO sad about Kendra! She was a good person, and had probably suffered more than Buffy due to her Slayerdom -she was sent away by her family, she never had friends, she never really had a life- and she never really gets a chance to live. Sad, sad... My reaction to Kendra's death is very similar to that of
Cedric Diggory: I never had strong feelings for them while they were alive, just a positive feeling, a liking, but their so unheroic and unnecessary deaths really get to me.

Joyce: I'm usually one to defend her, but this time, I side with Nikki. OK, you're in shock about what you find out (and I'll even attribute the unrealistic calmness after witnessing the vampire dusting to the shock) -that monsters exist and that your young daughter has the responsibility to kill them- and I understand that you don't want to accept that and, most importantly, you don't want your daughter to be in constant peril, but really, even in a state of shock, you believe that "If you leave don't ever come back" is the thing to do to keep her safe? Really? She seems plain stupid in this scene...

For all it's torture and boyfriend-killing and death and estrangement, "Becoming Part II" has a lot of humour in it.

Snyder is so horrible -and I so adore him! :)

I knew before I ever watched Buffy that Angel had his own spin-off show, so the ending of this season left me "huh?".

@Colleen/redeem147: THANK YOU! I now know I'm not alone feeling uncomfortable with Angel's feelings/attitude towards Buffy -every time, a part of me screams "Pedophile!".

Stacy said...

I love David Boreanaz as Angelus. He is so much more spirited than dull Angel. At first I thought the actor couldn't act, but then Angelus shows a whole other side.

Missy said...

I adore 'Becoming'(Both Parts)
Whistler is awesome...everything he said was beautiful.
Darla on rewatch is Brilliant in her little scene.(You'll have to watch Angel to get my love for Darla Lol)
Willow pulling out the big guns(Wont be the last Season finale save from Willow)
I Love Xander telling Willow that he needs&Loves her.
I hated Xander lying to Buffy,it wasn't until S7 that I finally understood why he had to say what he said.
The Church Confessional scene will be retconned and we'll see why Dru was Angels "Masterpiece".(Thats not spoilery is it?)
As much as I get upset by Kendra's Death...it makes way for my all time fav whedonverse character.
Spike and his people are "Happy Meals" comment makes me laugh every time.
Angelus & Dru are also brilliant in their ending the world roles.
This ep ends with Angel,Buffy,Spike & Dru gone...Buffy obviously comes back but I think the newbies will be shocked by who doesn't.
Bring on S3 ...My Fav Season.(S6andS5 are Close seconds)

@JS Yes when Angel sees Buffy for the 1st time she is still in L.A attending Hemery High....the same school whos Gym she burnt down and forced her & Joyce to move to Sunnydale.

Blam said...

I love all the lines you (and others) repeated, Nik, but my favorite is also recipient of the Award for Delivery of Dialogue A Long Time Coming — the simple, funny, powerful "Mom... I'm a Vampire Slayer."

@Nikki: I think David Boreanaz’s accent coach for this one was the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

At least his accent was consistent. Boreanaz's is not only cheesy, it's Swiss cheesy — i.e., full of holes; certain words were clearly pronounced in his native East Coast inflection. David, of course, grew up in Philadelphia, where his father was what they call a local television personality, retiring last year from 30-plus years as a beloved weatherman on my local ABC affiliate.

Other than narrative convenience and DB's lack of facility with the brogue, there's no good reason — as you bring up in Bite Me! — for Angel not to have an Irish accent "today" if he's been as isolated as he appears to have been for the century he was ensouled according to "Becoming".

It's also pretty strange for Darla to flirt with Liam sounding like Meg Ryan and him not question her own accent, even if it's in the context of him finding it an intriguing reflection of her stated worldliness (or something).

More questions: How is Angleus hanging out inside a church when Drusilla arrives? How does Spike choke-hold Dru into unconsciousness (good ol' Jack Bauer's go-to move for getting allies out of the way — all I could think of was Kiefer Sutherland saying, "Don't fight it!")? Why do vampires decorate their lairs with so much wood furniture? How is Angelus fighting Buffy in that sunlight-drenched courtyard? How is Spike driving that car by spinning the steering wheel like he's Captain Stubing on a bender?

VW: matiest — adj. [may tee est] Having the most Australian friends.

Marebabe said...

@Blam: I started giggling at "Don't fight it", and didn't stop until well after Australian friends! (I would also like answers to a few of those questions you raised, dagnabbit!)

Blam said...

@Janet/Steve: The deaths of Jenny and Kendra have one particularly horrible thing in common. They are both killed specifically to hurt other people rather than to feed — neither Angelus nor Drusilla bother to bite or to drink from their victims, but kill them by other, somehow more brutal means and leave them to be found in order to bring pain to those that love them.

While this is an apt observation, I didn't really buy Drusilla not drinking Kendra — (A) she's a Slayer, and thus a particular triumph; (2) we get the sense that the vamps aren't exactly feeding freely, so they must be hungry; and (C) it's not as if a drained Kendra wouldn't be just as recognizable a horror to leave behind.

VW: pargenti — pl.n. [par jen tee] Average Italian men.

Blam said...

Okay... I hope this doesn't end up a duplicate post, but the following showed up via E-mail yet not on the actual page. Since the same thing happened over at Teebore's blog the other day, I'm gonna go ahead and send it again, but I'll break it up into parts.

@Nikki: Hurley gravestone


@Nikki: Spike and Buffy coming up with the story of them being in a band.

I always want Clueless Joyce to say, "Oh. Is that what all those wooden shavings in the trash are from? Do you whittle your own drumsticks?"

@Nikki: the guy who ran the magic shop says he usually sells the orbs to New Age types who use them as paperweights

While I love the humorous little callback, even as we also get that Giles knows the item's potential value, it is hard to believe that Jenny never noticed one on Rupert's desk before.

Blam said...

@Janet/Steve: Representing Angel with a cello, incidentally, reconnects him with that other suffering vampire, Louis from Interview with the Vampire, who was also scored with achingly emotional cello lines in the 1994 film.

I wasn't aware of that (never saw the film), but I hope it's not a spoiler to say that the cello is also the haunting key component of the opening theme to Angel the series.

VW: peeven — v. [pee ven] Annoy producers, castmates, and theatregoers by dropping out of a play due to Mercury poisoning.

Blam said...

Weird... Part of it still isn't showing up.

Suzanne said...

There is so much to love in this episode, I can't even begin to count what I loved. For some reason, the end always gets to me even more than the moment between Buffy and Angel because of Willow's look of concern over why Buffy hasn't arrived at school. The Buffy and Willow friendship is one of my favorite aspects of the show, and everything I see this ending, I find myself wishing that Buffy had gone to Willow, sat on the edge of her bed to talk (as they often do)and pour her heart out about what she had been forced to do to Angel. Even though I love that her answer to Angel's "what is left" was "me," I always hate that she seems to interpret that need to only rely on herself a bit too strictly. I really believe that her friends, especially Willow, would be there if she needed a shoulder to cry on and that it would help her to rely on them at those times.

As for Blam's comment about the orb, I found it to be a poignant moment when I watched it this time because it made me wonder if Jenny might have somehow been saved if she had just told Giles her plan. Then he could have given her his orb thus preventing her from going to the magic shop for it and possibly (that is a big "if") preventing Dru from having her vision. I got the impression that the magic shop element caused her to get the vision, so it might have been possible that her vision wouldn't have happened if Jenny had gotten the orb from Giles. We will never know, but I like thinking of it that way for the poignant effect of it all.

Anne said...

Suzanne said: he Buffy and Willow friendship is one of my favorite aspects of the show, and everything I see this ending, I find myself wishing that Buffy had gone to Willow,

I think its Xander's lie that made Buffy think she was really alone in what she was feeling, having the weight of the word on her shoulders and the task to kill her true love. Incidently when Xander told her what Willow "said" buffy though that if Willow wasn't sidding with her, nobody would understand her pain and what she had to do. I think the moment when she plunges that sword in Angel's heart she looses her innocence and her yought and herself (or part of herself), thats when she is forced to grow up too fast. To me this is the moment where she changes and and therefore begins to think that nobody can understand what she is going through and therefore must stand alone in the battle vs evil because nobody really understands the sacrifices she has to make. i think she understands that her mother doesnt get it (as parents rarely do), but when Willow doesn't get it, then she truely is alone, because Xander made his feelings on the situation pretty clear and she could never ask Giles to support her because of what Angel did to him. All this because of Xanders "white lie". And that is why she thinks she has to leave because she thinks nobody will understand what she is going through. Also i think part of her wants to be punished for letting them hurt Willow Xander and Giles, and Genny and for killing Angel.

In many ways her leaving by herself is really unselfish because she wants to deal whith her issues on her own and come back when shes better, to not berdened them with her pain. However because she is the slayer...when she leaves she doesn't just leav her family and friends, she leanves Sunnydale unprotected aswell...another mistake, which in hercase not too good and selfish.

could say more..but i'm late...

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I still don't understand why they say Buffy 'killed' Angel. Yes, she sent him to the hell dimension and didn't know the ramifications of that, but you can't destroy a vampire with a sword unless you decapitate him.

Nikki Stafford said...

Lisa: Dru is one of my favourite things in this episode. That moaning sound she makes when it sounds like she's about to scream as she begins shaking her hands... she's absolutely brilliant.

JS: I made the same observations in my notes, why would they kill every human and leave only demons, something they can't eat? But then Spike makes that observations (referring to humans hilariously as Happy Meals with legs!) and I was glad one of the vampires hadn't gone crazy. ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

Juanita's: I was a little lukewarm on the police evasion myself when I first saw it. But now it makes sense, and not only creates further suspense, but it also brings a real-world element into things. Buffy goes around killing things all the time, and sometimes bodies are left behind. Her activities are often illegal, and at some point the police have to start noticing or they're more deeply stupid than even Snyder says.

Nikki Stafford said...

Tom D and Paul: Thank you for mentioning the chokehold! You're absolutely right... my bad. Though... I wonder if blood flow would be the same way in a vampire and a human? (When Buffy was on, this was a constant question on the message boards... mostly in the context of vampires having sex.)

Nikki Stafford said...

Colleen: Agreed on Buffy "killing" Angel. What actually always surprises me is that everyone just calmly waits for her to return (I'll probably say more about this next week) rather than wondering if she died trying to save the world. Why don't they think they were both sucked into the hell dimension?

Blam: sorry to hear you're having posting problems, but I see a bunch of them here so I think we're good!

And oh my god thank you for commenting on Marsters' OVERdriving in this episode. What the hell?? Every time I watch it I think... "OK if that was him turning a corner he's just overturned and is up on the sidewalk... and now he just went into the store... oh, oh, back on the sidewalk and... nope, back in the store." ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

Efthymia: Oh dear, even when I don't make a comment about Joyce, anyone who says something negative about her says they're siding with me. ;) (Maybe I say something negative about her in Bite Me... I haven't rechecked what I said about these eps.)

But you know, I don't side with anyone in this scene. On the one hand, Buffy has the weight of the world on her shoulders and has to save it. She's in a rush, she's desperate, and she doesn't have time to tell her mom.

On the other hand, I can't help but see it from Joyce's perspective: her daughter has just told her something that is huge... while it's being used as a metaphor for her coming out to her, it's much bigger than that. Why? Because every day kids are coming out to their parents. But this girl is the one Slayer in all the world (well, except for Kendra, but her parents seem to have been in on it from the get-go). She's told her that those bumps in the night are really evil demons. Vampires and werewolves are real, monsters exist, oh, and guess what? I'm the only thing that can defeat them. And I was sleeping with one of them, too.

On the one hand, Joyce wants answers. On the other, you can see the terror that goes through her as she wonders if her daughter is mentally ill. It's a horrible moment for Joyce, and she just wants to talk it over with Buffy. But Buffy doesn't grant her that, and instead walks out the door. So I feel really badly for Joyce in this scene, and telling Buffy that if she leaves she can never come back is an act of desperation: in that moment she's looking for anything she can say that will stop Buffy from leaving and just keep her there for a longer discussion.

All that said, I'm pretty sure I had less sympathy for Joyce when I first watched this. ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

Colleen and Efthymia: I find Angel's reaction to fifteen year old Buffy very disturbing - Lolita with her lollipop. I think this is part of the problem I will always have with this relationship.

Interesting. I read what you said here and I thought, "What reaction was that, exactly?" He stares at her. Then he watches her dust the vampire. Then he sees how sad she is at home. You don't see him etching "Angel loves Buffy" on a tree with a little heart around it. ;) You don't see him, er, doing other things alone under the sheets...

I always saw that moment as Whistler showing him his future. That if he really wants to do good, he'll help out this young girl who, like him, believes she's all alone in the world. Just as he doesn't fit in with other vampires, she doesn't fit in with other high schoolers. So he kept tabs on her, he watched her fight, and made notes the same way Spike begins watching her fight -- learning how she does things and deciding what her weaknesses are, in this case so he can help her. But there's a sense that he also wants to know WHO she is so he really knows who he's dealing with.

When he first approaches her in the alley and talks to her, I don't get a sense that he's in love with her... he's simply fulfilling the mission he's been on for so long. Only after he begins to talk to her and be in her midst and see the spark he's ignited in her does he begin to fall for her.

But that's just how I see it. I could see how people would think it was love at first site when he first spots her in the car. I just don't see it that way, that's all.

redeem147 said...

Whistler's the one who says that Angel is in love with Buffy and she must be 'prettier than the last Slayer'. He's the one picking up on it.

"OK if that was him turning a corner he's just overturned and is up on the sidewalk... and now he just went into the store... oh, oh, back on the sidewalk and... nope, back in the store." ;)

Must have needed some smokes.

Suzanne said...

To Anne, I really love your explanation for the way that Xander's "white lie" made all of the difference and might have actually been the thing that made Buffy feel she couldn't turn to Willow. That really makes sense to me and also makes me feel the way about Xander's lie that I did the first time I saw it -- I really hate that he did that!

To Nikki, I always say Angel watching Buffy in LA the same way you did until I noticed what Whistler said (as Redeem147 pointed out earlier) during this rewatch. Then, I was watching Joss Whedon's commentary on this episode on the Special Features, and he actually refers to Angel seeing her in LA as the moment Angel first fell in love with Buffy. I wonder if that was intended originally or something that he started thinking later when the DVDs were made. Even so, I still have trouble seeing Angel as Humbert Humbert because he seems so young and innocent once he gets his soul back. It almost as if living with the constant guilt over what he has done as Angelus makes him young in some way.

redeem147 said...

I never saw Angel as young. I actually thought he was older than Spike, until I found out that James is seven years older than David.

Efthymia said...

@Nikki: My problem with the Angel-Buffy relationship is not with the first time he lays eyes on her, but in general. I just commented on it now because someone had already referred to it.

JavaChick said...

Ok, I just typed a big long comment and blogger ate and I don't think I have the energy to type it again. Boo. Short comment then.

After all these years, this is still a heart breaking episode. The first time it left me sobbing my heart out and then walking around feeling bereft for the next couple of days. Job well done by Joss & Co.

Blam said...

@Colleen: Jenny might have somehow been saved if she had just told Giles her plan. Then he could have given her his orb

he could. ;^)

Blam said...

Oops! I should have attributed that remark to Suzanne. And I probably should've kept my reply to myself, but as I was zipping through these comments several days ago it was just a little bit of levity in context; sometimes it takes me awhile to actually post things. 8^ }

@Colleen: I think Nikki is being unfair about Angel's accent - to the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

Ha! And I'm with you, too, on finding Angel being mesmerized by 15-year-old Buffy creepy.

While I didn't necessarily get the sense from the scene that this is when Angel actually fell for her, Whistler's comments in-story and Whedon's remarks in the DVD extra do bear out that interpretation; regardless, I've always felt a push-pull between the series setting up Buffy and Angel as star-crossed lovers whose romance should be rooted for and the weirdness if not outright ickiness of a centuries-old man taken by (not to mention "taking") an high-school lass.

Although I've never read or seen Twilight, the pattern of May / December-of-like-1800 romances between vampires and literally virginal, often underage, young women on Buffy, The Vampire Diaries, and True Blood is not just hard to accept morally but hard to believe from a narrative perspective. Even if their maturity is, to an extent, arrested at the time they're turned immortal, the lives they've led have to be at odds with them falling for someone with so little life experience. Don't you think?

Blam said...

@Colleen: Lesley, I've learned to copy my text before I post here, so that when Blogger eats it I can try again.

I do the same. Partly it's because my Internet connection is for crap, so I'm writing offline in TextEdit (like NotePad) as I read for posting when possible; sometimes, too, I just have trouble concentrating and have to stop mid-comment, but that's particular to my health issues. Even then, I still select and copy what I've pasted into the comment box in case the Blogger wormhole acts up, when I remember to at least, because I've often made edits to what I'd typed earlier.

VW: soccusiphr. [sah koo zee] How an Italian pardons oneself for daring to refer to you-know-what as "football".