Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 18: Spoiler Forum

And once again, here is the forum where you can discuss Buffy and Angel without fear of spoiling any of the newcomers. To expand on what I said in the above post, imagine watching The Prom and listening to Jonathan's speech about Buffy, not knowing that she was the one who talked him down from the clock tower. I remember sitting there saying, "Wait... what? How did Jonathan know about what she does??"

"Earshot," of course, also now puts me in mind of "Superstar" and what Jonathan will become in season 6.

12 comments:

Cindy/SenexMacDonald said...

I will have to wait until tomorrow to comment about Dopplegangland as for some reason this part of my dvd was pixelating and I could not watch it. For some reason, after watching the other two eps, it is now working... haha

Re. Earshot:
When I watch Jonathan show up throughout the first two seasons, I always feel pleasantly surprised and yet... I see on repeated viewings aspects of who Jonathan is. A hint of the boy who reaches that point where he wants to kill himself.

Yet, even in season 6, when Jonathan is feeling more empowered through his relationship with Warren and Andrew, I can still see the Jonathan we have come to understand in Earshot. Even though his affiliation with the other guys makes him feel that he is now one of the 'big, bad boys' (The Troika), he still remains that high school boy who is belittled, pushed around and basically remains a rug for others to clean their boots on. In this case, it will be Andrew and, especially, Warren. Luckily, Jonathan will finally realize this - too late to prevent Warren this time from picking up a gun but at least in time to see what has been happening to himself.

Chris said...

Cindy/SenexMacDonald,

I Believe that Jane Espenson, in one of the commentaries, mentioned that Jonathan always went for the big dramatic effect, whether it was trying to shoot himself in the clock-tower, casting the augmentation spell in "Superstar", and trying to take over Sunnydale as part of the Trio in season 6.

I find it interesting that during all this he was, as you put it, "that high school boy who is belittled, pushed around and ..." However, he did seem to finally be able to come to peace with his high school experiences by the time of "Conversations With Dead People" in season 7. Unfortunately, Andrew pretty much ended that story arc from continuing.

I wanted to put "potential" before "story arc" in the above sentence, but regarding season 7 it seemed just too punny.

Tom D. said...

The thing that surprised me most, in rewatching Doppelgangland, is that first scene between Buffy and Willow, with the floating pencil. They're talking about Faith, and Willow says she's crazy and likes killing people, and "some people just don't have that in them." What a great bit of ironic foreshadowing of Dark Willow. (Much subtler than the hint at Willow's future gayness that happens later in the episode.)

When Willow says some people just don't have that in them, she means Buffy, not herself. In that light, the same line ironically foreshadows the fact that Buffy will very nearly kill Faith in Graduation Day Part 1.

The same line, in its literal meaning, is also quite unfair to Faith. Faith didn't kill the deputy mayor for fun. I like that Buffy still has some compassion for Faith at that point.

It's a cliche, but often a true one, that we hate people who reflect the worst parts of ourselves. From that perspective, I think Willow's intense dislike of Faith (which we've seen at least since Bad Girls) reveals that Faith and Willow share some qualities.

On one level, Faith and Willow go evil for basically the same reasons: they enjoy their powers a bit too much and start thinking they can do whatever they want. (As Buffy will say later in another context, but with a manifesto-ish ring to it, "it's about power.") Willow at this point is still pretty new to magic, still in the early stages of pushing the boundaries of her anxious, rule-following self. Does she subconsciously recognize Faith as someone she could end up resembling, if her powers corrupt her?

My Willow/Faith train of thought somewhat plays into the Earshot commentary from Nikki about everyone being in pain, nerds and jocks alike. On the surface, Faith is infinitely cooler than Willow, who surely envies that to some degree. But really the two characters are driven by some similar loneliness and pain, which leads them both into abuse of power, murder, etc.

Doppelgangland also gives us the first interaction between Willow and Anya. Their relationship gets off on the wrong foot and doesn't ever get a whole lot better. Anya's calling her "idiot child" is pretty damn funny (as are a lot of other lines in this episode).

There's also the debut of D'Hoffryn, one of my favorite minor characters.

And I absolutely love the scenes between Cordelia and Vamp Willow. "I promise to never steal your boyfriend again" -- said in that wonderfully dry yet childish tone of voice that Vamp Willow uses. And when Vamp Willow attacks Cordelia, there's a real sense of danger because this is the same place where we actually saw Cordelia being killed by Vamp Willow (and Vamp Xander) in The Wish.

I wish (if only I had a vengeance demon handy to make it come true) that there were more episodes with Vamp Willow. Dark Willow is pretty entertaining, but Vamp Willow is quite a different beast (even though they share the same catchphrase!). Dark Willow is driven by emotions, by pain -- she's very much a human, soul-having villain. Vamp Willow is soulless, and hence shallower, colder, more in control of what she's doing, more sinister. I think she's the second most entertaining vampire character, after Spike.

EBethToThePowerOf? said...

Tom D. already said everything I wanted to say, and better:) Especially regarding that first conversation between Willow and Buffy.

We do see here that Willow is already trying to use magic to boost her self-esteem and define her identity outside of "nerd" Willow. When Anya asks her to help with the spell, Willow jumps at the change to do something out of character.

Seeing Willow and Anya do that spell together made me think of Anya's future comment: "It did get sexy there for a minute, right?" or something like that;)

This episode made me question Anya much more than I have in the past. I used to think that when Anya got stuck in the identity of a human she got a soul, so that's why when she did stuff as a vengeance demon she was sort of excused for it in the Whedonverse. But upon rewatching I am clear that she is human, but maybe she had a soul as a vengeance demon, or doesn't now, but whatever, she's still murderous and evil as a human. How come she gets off the hook for her prior murders but Angel is tortured for stuff he did when he wasn't even in the driver's seat of his conscience? I find this whole Anya thing confusing, especially as I remember her as one of my favorite characters from Season 5 on.

Tom D. said...

EBeth, that's a really interesting thought about Anya.

I guess I had also lazily assumed she just got a soul when she became human at the end of The Wish. But in fact, as you point out, it's not at all clear when Anya does or doesn't have a soul, or whether her evil tendencies have anything to do with a soul or lack thereof.

Here's an off-the-cuff attempt to explain Anya's soul and conscience or lack thereof. I think that, all along (beginning in her original life in Norway or wherever it was), Anya was pretty close to being unencumbered by a conscience. She had a soul -- because she's human, and humans have souls -- and she never lost her soul or needed to regain it, which is why we never hear about it. I wouldn't say she totally lacks a conscience, because if she did, then she wouldn't need the idea of "vengeance" to justify her actions. She just has a weak conscience.

But anyway, she gets noticed by the lower beings and becomes a vengeance demon, and from then on, she isn't subject to the social pressures that push many ordinary people towards being law-abiding and peaceful and kind. On the contrary, her boss and colleagues (exemplified by Halfrek) encourage her to wield her awesome powers in clever and entertaining ways regardless of who gets hurt or whether the punishment fits the wrong for which vengeance is being done. At the same time, she doesn't get totally disconnected from humanity, because she needs to connect with scorned women in order to use her powers. But she gets a pretty skewed view of humanity, which probably reinforces her underlying tendency not to care about humans very much.

So she loses her powers and becomes human but she's still basically the same person, and so in Doppelgangland it doesn't occur to her that she should care that all the people in the Bronze are about to be be eaten by vampires. She still thinks of herself as a demon, not as a human who could be eaten.

But the change from being a demon back to being a human is about more than just losing her powers. It's a physical thing -- she has the body and hormones and other brain-chemicals of a teenage girl. So, as we will begin to see in The Prom, she is now affected by desire and love. Her human body makes her become much more "human."

But she's still not big with the conscience. After she has been human for a while, we start to see that she cares quite a lot about money. She also starts to care very much about Xander, but that's based on a very personal kind of love (and also insecurity) and doesn't make her care much about humanity in general. She cares surprisingly little for Xander's close friends, who are nominally her friends too. And her ability to talk in a very frank and unfiltered way basically reflects the fact that she doesn't care how others feel.

I may be starting to sound rather critical of Anya here, and I don't want to go too far in that direction. I think she's a great and entertaining character, certainly. And she is so vulnerable, at times, that it's easy to sympathize with her even though she's not very morally good. I don't necessarily agree with Joss's decision to kill her in Chosen. But I guess I am glad that Xander didn't end up marrying her.

Anyway, thank you EBeth for getting me to think about this for the first time. Does anyone else have theories or observations about Anya?

Efthymia said...

"Doppelgangland" is supposed to be a funny episode (and it is, don't get me wrong), but knowing what's to come for Willow, there are some moments that make me sad --especially when, after she's pointed out her vamp self's worst traits, Willow says "I don't ever want to be like that" and looks so hurt that any Willow can be like that.

I wonder if Jonathan got the idea about his spell in "Superstar" from his interrogation by Willow ("Fantasy about being powerful and respected, would I like that to be true... hmmm...").

On Anya:
As we see much later on, Anya was a good person before becoming a vengeance demon --loving, trusting, sharing, not really expecting anything in return-- but was deeply hurt (which is how D'Hoffryn was called to her) and I guess it made her think that being a good person causes you pain and she decided to go to the completely opposite direction. Then she lived for over a thousand years as a vengeance demon, which is a LONG time, and I guess anyone would lose their humanity after so long, especially someone with such great power and no fear of any form of punishment. So when she first loses her powers she still considers herself a demon and tries to get back to that, which I find normal and expected. And again she becomes a quite good person in a very short ammount of time, even if it's a different one to her pre-vengeance days self: she discovers her love of money after socialising and helping people, she watches Dawn along with Xander even if she doesn't really like her (and who did?), even though she REALLY wants to marry Xander she gives him plenty of opportunity to take it back, and she stays to fight in the end. She deserves a lot of respect, in my humble opinion, which is not very obvious because she's usually viewed as a funny one.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

So many insightful observations about Anya - I just noticed she wasn't talking funny/literally yet.

Pencil-floating Willow talks about the importance of control in magick - but she becomes more powerful (and deadly) when she loses that control. She comes to find that control is needed to channel the magick for good.

In Enemies we see the first demon that isn't evil - he's an old acquaintance of Giles. We see more evil demons on Buffy because her job is to kill them (though our friend Clem is yet to come.) There are more positive and benign demons on Angel because it's a show about a demon.

"Angel and Faith have so much in common" including the upcoming comic book series Angel and Faith. I'm very curious where that one will go. I won't say more since Nikki is still reading the comics.

The demons in Earshot remind me of a certain baddie in current Doctor Who, physically anyway.

Buffy fears turning part demon - Cordy actually will.

Not only do I think Buffy and Angel inspire Charlaine Harris, in the TV series they even look like them and the scene of Buffy trying to read Angel's mind is very similar to the one in the True Blood pilot.

When Angel said he's only loved Buffy, is he telling the truth? He's had some pretty strong feelings for Darla (though he may not realize how strong until Angel season 2.)

Buffy's power in Earshot is similar to Cordy's curse at the end of Angel season 1, and that does drive her into the hospital.

Witness Aria said...

@Colleen/redeem147

"Buffy's power in Earshot is similar to Cordy's curse at the end of Angel season 1, and that does drive her into the hospital."

It also makes me think of Dark Willow stealing magic from Giles and then feeling the pain of all the people in the world. I keep wanting to more closely study the three instances and the three women's differing reactions to them, but been too lazy to do it to date.

EBethToThePowerOf? said...

Efthymia--I wonder if you're right about Jonathan getting the idea after this!

Colleen/Redeem--I have had the same thought about Angel/Buffy and Angel/Darla, especially after watching Angel.

Tom D. and others--thanks for the Anya deep thoughts. We'll probably talk more about it as she takes a greater role. My main curiosity is why the writers don't make her atone/be guilty all the time for the things she did in the past, like they do for Angel. She doesn't seem conflicted, more just like, yeah, I used to do that, but now I don't anymore, but in Dopplegangland it seems like she could still be evil, just an evil human. Great thoughts about her selfish love for Xander morphing into a love for all of humanity.

In this way (of pointing out what it means to be human and a path toward emotional humanity) I always equated her role on Buffy with that of Data on Star Trek TNG. . .

Missy said...

I was going to post this on the other forum but it could have led to spoilers.
'Doppelgangland'

I always forget that D'hoffryn showsup so early in the series(which is kinda funny because I watch this ep ALOT),this is Anya's second ep...and here he is nameless and clearly a once off but he's still there.
I love the retcon continuity in the Buffyverse...It's such a Joss thing..to go back to a ancillary character and make them part of the 'verse :)

Philippe De Thrace said...

Hello,
First Comment here, maybe for a thing alredy noticed (but my english isn't perfect an i might have missed it )
In "Doppelganger", VampWillow bites a Sandy in the Bronze. That Sandy is the first goule we see in "Family" in fifth season. But with a lot more of make up.

Chris said...

I don`t mean no disrespect, Nikki, I`m a big fan of yours (and of Buffy and Lost) but man, your book for Buffy is full of spoilers! In your entry for Doppelgangland, you include major spoilers both for the Season 3 finale and for Anyas future role on the show oO I love reading your books while watching my favorite shows, but I don`t think I could let a newbie read your Buffy guide without worrying that he would get spoiled a lot!