Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 27

4.19 New Moon Rising
4.20 The Yoko Factor
4.21 Primeval


Read along in Bite Me!, pp. 239-244.

If you’re watching Angel, this week’s eps are

1.19 Sanctuary (Part Two) (the brilliant conclusion to the Faith arc)
1.20 War Zone (Gunn!!)
1.21 Blind Date


Read along in Once Bitten, pp. 142-149.

When you were watching “Primeval” this week, that wasn’t just your imagination making you think it was the finale. It was… and that’s why this week we’ll be talking about it as if it’s the season finale. For all intents and purposes, it was. It’s the only one of seven seasons that Joss wrapped up one episode before the end, which is why next week’s episode – “Restless” – stands alone in the Buffyverse as the most unique episode of all, and is the middle episode of the entire oeuvre (or, it would have been if season 1 had been a full 22-episode one). Joss himself refers to "Primeval" as the S4 finale, and says that "Restless" is the show's "coda."

But for this week, we’ll talk about the conclusion (thank god) of the Initiative arc and sum up the season as a whole. I’m up first, and our guest host for this week will discuss “The Yoko Factor” and “Primeval.”

As I’ve said a few times, what doesn’t work for me in season 4 is the Initiative arc. The military aspect goes against BtVS’s reliance on folklore and fairy tales. However, the arc itself almost feels necessary (Chris will handle this in greater detail below) because there have been hints all along that the real world knows about the baddies outside: Buffy got the Class Protector award from a school that realized she wasn’t a normal girl; the Mayor, police, and principal were all aware of what was happening; and considering the events of “Hush” made it onto the LA News (remember the Scoobs all watching the news discussing the quarantine of Sunnydale?) methinks a giant lizard/snake thing suddenly appearing at the high school graduation and eating the principal before being blown up by the students might have made it into the front section of the LA Times. Maybe.

So this season confirms that Buffy’s secret ain’t so secret anymore. And when we see the way the military botches everything, we realize WHY the Scoobs rely on folklore. The season also furthered the theme of togetherness with everyone scattering to do their own thing: Buffy and the Scoobs are unaware that Willow has found a new love in Tara; Buffy separates herself from Giles and turns to Maggie Walsh as her new mentor; Xander doesn’t go to college with the girls and instead discovers a new world of wild monkey love with the childlike and hilarious Anya; Giles becomes a man of leisure, just a sad man – a bad man – behind blue eyes. And Joyce is practically absent for the entire season.

They’re all in new worlds, discovering new things, and going it alone. Spike for the first time enters the fold, but only to be a shit disturber and cause greater rifts among all of them (quickly becoming the fan favourite of the season). Angel, Cordy, and Wesley are gone, Sunnydale High is gone, the library is gone, and the togetherness is gone. Separate them all, and what have you got? What happens in the Yoko Factor. Only when they come back together again do they become a force that is so unstoppable they can do anything.

But before we get to the final two episodes, let’s look at New Moon Rising. As I’ve also said before, despite the military misstep of the season, there are SO many brilliant episodes in S4. While season 4 has my least favourite arc, I often tell people how much I love it and the reasons why. And one of the biggest of those reasons is “New Moon Rising.” WHAT an episode. Now there’s a lot to say about the entire episode as a treatise on tolerance and prejudice, from Buffy’s stuttering response to discovering her best friend is in love with another woman, to Riley’s method of painting all demons with the same brush. But I’m going to set that aside and talk about the reason why I love this episode so much. (If you want to see more on the other material, check out my book.)

After several episodes that have focused on Adam and Maggie and Riley and the stupid Initiative, we finally come back to one that focuses on the emotions of the most beloved character: Willow. The return of Oz is worth rejoicing over, but if you’d been pulled in by Tara the same way Willow is (and I’ll understand for the new people if you weren’t; the overdone stutter and over-shyness were a little much in the beginning, but trust me when I say Amber Benson gets MUCH better as the show progresses) you can feel the torture Willow feels when Oz suddenly shows up again. As she stands in Giles’ living room and stares at the one thing she wanted more than absolutely anything just a few short months ago, the number of conflicting emotions she’s going through are apparent on Alyson Hannigan’s face – the actress is absolutely amazing in this scene.

From Oz’s point of view, he believed he would go on his world journey because he needed to bury the wolf inside him for Willow. And if he’s going through all of this for her, it’s understandable that he would be picturing her standing there waiting for him in the same place where he left her. Even he admits how silly that was, but we can forgive him for picturing the stalwart Willow waiting for him.

And if Tara hadn’t come along, perhaps she still would have been. They still had a LOT to deal with (remember the whole Veruca incident that happened right before he left) but he wasn’t anticipating a new love – and a female one at that.

The Oz and Willow pairing might be my favourite in the Jossverse. It was so innocent and sweet, with that squee-worthy scene in the beginning where Willow kisses Oz and tells him that she’s not a lot of fun to be around a few days a month, either. Willow slips up, but unlike Cordy and Xander, Oz and Willow find a way to work through it and they come out stronger on the other side. We remember Oz’s original “who IS that girl?” upon first seeing her… the Barry White music playing as Willow tries to be sexy for him… the Pez witch… Oz’s devastation upon thinking Willow had been turned into a vampire, and his joy when she gives him a little wave while dressed up as Vampire Willow… the “Willow kissage”… Oz “panicking” before he and Willow make love for the first time… Willow’s little squeal every time she realizes she’s dating a guitarist in a band… they were just the pinnacle of first love, with all the highs and lows associated with it.

But Tara is something different, something deeper, something that goes beyond Pez witches and deep down into Willow’s psyche. The scene last week of the two of them doing that spell together was so gorgeously done, showing something deeper and more magical (in every way) than the scenes with Willow and Oz, or Xander and Cordy, or Xander and Anya, or Buffy and Riley, or Buffy and Angel… there has simply not been another scene like it on this show, between any other couple.

But that doesn’t change the pain with which we watch the final scene in this episode. Willow decides she wants to be with Tara, but that means saying goodbye to the first great love of her life… and along with her, we feel like we, the audience, are also breaking up with him. It’s a beautiful scene that is written with such heart and depth it’s still one of the series standouts for me:

WILLOW: I missed you, Oz. I wrote you so many letters... but I didn't have any place to send them, you know? I couldn't live like that.
OZ: It was stupid to think that you'd just be... waiting.
WILLOW: I was waiting. I feel like some part of me will always be waiting for you. Like if I'm old and blue-haired, and I turn the corner in Istanbul and there you are, I won't be surprised. Because... you're with me, you know?
OZ: I know. But now is not that time, I guess.
WILLOW: No.
(They look at each other.)
WILLOW: What are you gonna do?
OZ: I think I better take off.
WILLOW: When?
OZ: Pretty much now.


Goodbye, Oz. :::sniffle:::


OK, and now for the final two episodes, I’ll introduce someone who, for the Game of Thrones fans out there, needs no introduction: it’s Christopher Lockett, who recently joined me for weekly discussions on the HBO drama, and we had a lot of fun doing it. Now he’s back to take us to the end of the season. Take it away, Chris!

“So it’s chips all around, then?”: Conspiracy and Collectivity in “The Yoko Factor” and “Primeval”

When I was signing up for the Buffy rewrite schedule, I leapt with both feet on these two episodes for the very selfish reason that I have written about them before, and indeed taught them. Well, not both—in my dissertation and in a class I taught several times at UWO on Conspiracy Culture, I dealt with “Primeval” as the culmination of the conspiratorial story arc of season four. What I love about this episode is the way it resolves the storyline, a storyline that at many points through the season was at best strained and at worst hackneyed and cliché.

But for a variety of reasons, I love season four for all of its flawed and derivative use of familiar military-industrial-espionage-conspiracy tropes. And not just because, as has been noted several times during the Rewatch, the season contains some of the best stand-alone episodes in the entire Buffy and Angel corpus. Rather, I love it because of how it ended. Or rather, how it pre-ended. “Primeval” remains to my mind the best season finale that wasn’t actually a finale; Buffy’s final showdown with Adam in which her strength and skill is bolstered by that of her friends, is (for me) the most deeply satisfying fight scene in all seven seasons.

But let me back up a little. My other reason for loving “Primeval” is that it was a vindication of one of the central premises of my doctoral dissertation. I wrote about conspiracy and paranoia in contemporary American fiction and film and popular culture, and to a certain extent season four was tailor-made for that line of inquiry. At some points, perhaps a little too much: as I alluded above, the season errs a wee bit on the side of cliché (wherein “wee bit” = “a whole lot”) with the whole military-exploiting-monstrosity for the purpose of weaponizing it (Alien and Aliens anyone?), along with the anxiety about cyborg/Frankenstein experimentation and the concomitant paranoia about technology as an insidious check on free will. All season we’ve laughed at Spike’s inability to harm (or even think about harming) humans, but his behavior modification has overtones of A Clockwork Orange. The dystopian manifestation of that technological blight appears at the end of “The Yoko Factor” when Riley appears before Adam. At first we think he has come to offer a fight, but we realize in the first few minutes of “Primeval” that he, too, has been technologically modified. “So it’s chips all around, then,” says Spike ironically, but Riley’s helplessness reflects on Spike’s own Alex DeLarge state of being.

Perhaps it seems odd to offer sympathy to Spike at this point, especially considering he does his best in these two episodes to screw over Buffy et al for his own benefit, and especially considering his impairment is largely played to comic effect; but when season four gets it right, it’s usually when it deals with issues of free will and scientific hubris.

One of the other things I love about season four, for all its flaws, is that it gestures toward answering the question of the real-world implications of demons’ existence. At the outset of Buffy, we’re given the trite dictum that humans’ capacity for willful ignorance and blindness is powerful enough to make them mentally paper over the existence of vampires, werewolves, etc. But as the Buffyverse grew, and grew more populous and complex, that explanation seems less and less tenable. Sooner or later, one has to wonder: does the President know about vampires? Perhaps that strikes some as not being in the spirit of Buffy, but then I’m the guy who reads the Harry Potter novels and imagines a special section of MI6 dedicated to keeping tabs on Voldemort and developed anti-magical countermeasures (or would that be MI5?).

All of which is by way of saying that the overall arc of season four wasn’t necessary per se, but that it did answer a particular question: yes, the government knows about vampires; yes, the military has thought long and hard about it; and yes, they have considered how sub-terrestrials might benefit their own weapons programs.

But of course, military intervention into a Hellmouth wouldn’t be benign, and it is with that assumption that the conspiratorial dimension of season four starts. From the mid-sixties onward, conspiracy narratives had less to do with foreign infiltration (or alien invasion that was really just an elaborate metaphor for foreign infiltration) than with the perfidy of the government, the military, or the various intelligence agencies operating in the nether regions between the two. Timothy Melley coined a useful phrase for this in his excellent study Empire of Conspiracy: “agency panic.” On one hand it refers to the fear we have of such “agencies” as the CIA, the FBI, or the host of fictional acronyms populating popular culture. But the double entendre here is the fear for our personal agency—i.e. our ability to make our own decisions and decide our own fates. The paranoia at the root of conspiracy theory is the fear that we are not our own masters—that our autonomy has been or will be taken away by the nefarious agencies in question.

Hence, Spike’s behavioral chip is dystopian in its implications, and though it has been played for laughs throughout the season, those implications become clear not just with Riley’s technological enslavement but the chimera that used to be Forrest. Are we meant to believe that his embrace of his new patchwork body and his new destiny as Adam’s minion is solely to do with him being enamored of his newfound strength and power? Or has some not-so-subtle tweaking been done to his behavior?

At its baldest, season four is yet another retelling of the Frankenstein story, right down to the inevitable loss of control over the monster. Adam is the Frankenstein’s monster, he is Hal from 2001, Mother from Alien, and of course he is Skynet. But before anyone thinks I’m slagging season four for being derivative, the almost-final two episodes offer their own very interesting—and I would say innovative—contribution to the conspiratorial imagination. Conspiracy narratives are almost invariably about positioning the individual in relation to a collective—usually the paranoid subject, the person being victimized by conspiratorial forces, finds him or herself facing an impossibly pervasive conspiratorial collective.

What season four of Buffy gives us instead is opposing collectives: on one hand, the Scoobies, and on the other the conspiratorial Initiative. Significantly, these two opposing collectives are also defined by their relationship to technology. Buffy and friends (Willow’s computer talents notwithstanding) embody premodern, intuitive, and indeed magical thinking; the Initiative, the fetishization of technology and science. This opposition has been driven home several times this season when we have seen sequences cutting between the Initiative being briefed and the Scoobies discussing a mission. The rather obvious point established, and dramatized in spectacular fashion in “Primeval,” is that intuition and “natural” power are authentic while technology can offer, at best, a pale simulacrum.

But the Scoobies’ power—and, by extension, Buffy’s power—rests in teamwork and their collectivity. “The Yoko Factor” of course makes this quite clear, and we see how they fall apart when the team is fractured. By comparison, Adam’s strength and power derives from his amalgamation of disparate parts assembled by Professor Walsh. He is himself a collective being, produced by the conspiratorial collective of the Initiative, and his nightmare scenario involves the creation of an army of über-soldiers like himself (again, not an uncommon trope in popular film).

The final showdown is a fight between Adam’s amalgamated self—until this point, seemingly one of the most indomitable Big Bads Buffy has faced—and the conflation of Buffy with Giles, Willow, Xander, and the spirit of Slayerness itself. The fight is at once predictable and awesome—as already mentioned, to my mind the most satisfying fight in all of Buffy. But what is crucial to understand is that Buffy’s victory comes not just from the literal realization of her collective identity with her friends, but the reach backwards in time. Conspiracy narratives almost invariably privilege what is older and preferably archaic as authentic. In tapping into primeval powers—though they must deal with the repercussions of that in the actual final episode—they endow themselves with power and ability that the conspiratorial-military-industrial-complex not only cannot match, but cannot comprehend.


Thank you, Chris!

Next week: Restless on Buffy (hosted by Matthew Pateman, the man who’s written an entire book on the episode!), where you’ll finally see why Steve Halfyard – our music gal who randomly pops up to discuss the episodes – calls herself the Cheeseman! And To Shanshu in LA on Angel. For those of you following along on the sister series, hold onto your hats for this one!!

19 comments:

Marebabe said...

It has been a crazy week, and I made it here to participate in this Buffy discussion, but just BARELY! First, our DVD player broke, delaying the start of my viewing of this week’s episodes. We ended up just buying another player for now. (Did you know that you can get one for only $30.00? Unbelievable!) I usually start watching episodes on Thursdays, but instead, I had my very own Buffy/Angel marathon on Sunday, zooming through all 6 of them back-to-back. What with a day trip on Saturday, and the 4th of July holiday on Monday, that was the only way I was going to manage it. In the interest of saving time, I skipped note-taking, content to simply be on the same page with all y’all. I’ve at least seen the episodes, so I’ll know what you’re talking about.

Just a couple comments. I’m so glad to be getting the full experience of Buffy AND Angel. I thought this week’s cross-pollination was wonderful. And considering how neatly tied-up-with-a-bow the whole Initiative story was, I am especially intrigued about next week’s season finale. My guess is that it will be a brilliant coda.

Ken H said...

The Council, another kind of conspiracy, also shows up during the season.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

The 'old boyfriend back' story is a soap opera standard - not surprised it's a Marti. And we get it in two episodes this week.

I'm less than enthralled with Oz in NMR. Is he planning to say sorry to Willow anytime soon? Everything he says is all about his needs. Oz wants what he wants, Tara wants what Willow wants. Good choice, Will.

Oz seems to have travelled a lot in what, six months? And had much spiritual training.

The torture scenes with Oz remind me of the movie New York, where John Abraham is stripped naked and held in a cage by the FBI. It could almost be seen as a metaphor for Muslims, and Guatanamo Bay - if this hadn't aired pre-911.

Would Oz have been so upset if Willow had been with a guy? Though he cheated and ran out - he doesn't have the right to be upset at all.

Yeah, not impressed with Oz in this one.

The commander says Riley isn't a good soldier because "he thinks too much." Another example of Joss vs the government/military.

Xander's black hole sweater is - interesting.

I wondered how Adam got out of the facility. Probably through the secret lab exit.

How did Riley override the chip?

That was some spell they did. It turned Buffy into her stunt double.

AEC said...

I have to say, I'm NOT a fan of Tara. At all. I really keep hoping she'll disappear, but that doesn't sound like it'll happen! It is good to hear that she gets better, perhaps she'll become less annoying to me over time.

I've really been enjoy Angel so far and I loved the cross-over that happened this week!

Oh- I did have a question from Angel. From the episode where Angel first met the kids in the gang. When the sister was turned into a vamp, shouldn't she have lost her soul and wanted to kill her brother? I was really surprised to see her trying to convince him to become a vamp also.

AEC said...

Also, I was bummed to see Oz leave after Willow turned him down. I hope he isn't gone forever, he has always been one of my favorites on here!

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I started watching when Tara was already with Willow and Oz was gone, so I've never really been emotionally invested in O/W. My daughter, however, stopped watching when he left - then later started watching again largely for the love of Tara.

Christina B said...

New Moon Rising--Yep, it hurt just as much on the second viewing as it did on the first.

See, I love Angel. I do. But Angel is that guy in high school that was untouchable. Gorgeous, chiseled, smart, popular...The Guy everyone wanted but would never get (unles you were head cheerleader or something).

Oz...Oz was MY guy. Average, short, stoic, sweet...The guy that NEEDED to get to know just to see what he had inside...and when you DID get in, he was perfect for you.

We've all loved and lost and 'Bad Moon Rising' brings me back to my very first love that we just couldn't make work.
He'll always have a special place in my heart. Like Willow says, "You're with me, you know?"

Ugh, heartbreaking.

Sanctuary--
LOVED it! Loved Faith, loved Angel...GREAT episode!

Blind Date--All I have to say about this one was the fight scene at the end between Angel and Vanessa was great!


SO looking forward to next week! Knowing what I know about season 5, I KNOW I'll understand 'Restless' much better than I did on my first viewing, and I can't wait for the Angel finale!

Linda345 said...

I loved the Yoko factor. Who would have thought that Spike would end up so wise? Guess we get wiser with age.

Tara does look pudgy--but who wouldn't in those wardrobe choices? That dress with the wide, light-colored band is not flattering.

I'm busy enough racing through Buffy that I haven't been able to watch Angel, but what a cool idea to have two simultaneous TV shows so linked to each other.

Willow has been gradually changing throughout the series: first, her clothing style has gone from preppy to long and flowy. Now, her makeup is getting heavier.

Speaking of makeup, didn't Joyce ever tell Buffy to wash her face before bed? Her bedtime face looks freshly applied. Clogging her pores night by night.

Tired of Riley, but remembering their first big episode was called "Doomed."

Page48 said...

Anthony Robbins? I miss that dude.

Spike liked The Beatles. Given a chance, would he have eaten The Beatles?

I thought Oz might have apologized to Tara (or instructed Willow to on his behalf). I guess, in fairness, he did tell her to RUN.

Poor Oz, lying on that table, naked, getting zapped into a werewolf. "Don't tase me, bro".

More classic rock from Giles. Drunk Giles was quite funny. I enjoyed his "bloody hell" from upstairs after Xander clues in about Tara being Willow's girlfriend.

Riley's elite military training is no match for Angel's elite vampire training.

A few simple instructions from Willow and Anya is able to hack the town's power grid. I love this show!!

Adam reminds me of Desmond, calling Riley "brother".

Maggie Walsh is re-animated and given a humongous butt. And could she please run a comb through that unruly, much longer than when she died mop?

Kudos to Adam for impaling Forrest Grump.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Anybody notice that Forrest is exactly the same as a zombie? Jerk.

Poor Tara, chased down by a monster again. Does she have a target pasted on her back?

Missy said...

"Slap My Hand Now!" Anya
(This is why I love her,She sooo beautifully random)


I've mentioned afew times that s4 is my least favourite...and that it's because of the Initiative.

So is it any surprise that I havn't watched 'The Yoko Factor' & 'Primeval' in afew months.Lol

I usually just watch 'NMR' and 'Restless'.


Sooo 'The Yoko Factor' is when Spike tears the Scoobies apart by telling them half truths,Xanders apparently joining the army or atleast the girls think he should(What??Lol),Willow is too into her Wicca/New Love...that she's not the computer girl anymore(I'm sorry isn't she dicphering text on her laptop?)and Buffy is being all pushy away-y again(This one I'll give Spike because this is a Buffy trait that I dislike&it never goes away)and Giles is useless..Hugh Hefner Giles is...but Giles isn't.

Forrest dies and Riley goes awol.

'Primeval'

Buffy,Giles,Willow and Xander join together to defeat Adam using the essence of the Slayer..and the result is matrix-y fun.
Forrest and Maggie(I thought we were done with these two crackpots) are back but horribly disfigured...Adam was playing God again..and Riley is there..Hmm..this can't end well,Riley has a chip and Momma/Big Brother Adam want him back in the fold...Riley thinks not,so he rips the chip right out of his own chest.(Ummm...YAY+Gross).
The Initiative gets filled in with concret...Goodbye.
And the Scoobies are happy to be back together.AWESOME.

Missy said...

'New Moon Rising' is equal parts upsetting and hopeful.

I adore Willow&Oz together.
(They are quite possibly the cutest thing in the whole world,they beat Cute fluffy kittens any day)

But Willow&Tara are a whole other ball game..and not just because Tara is a Woman...their love and relationship is beyond first love theirs is a true love.(Or atleast to me it is)
A love that even lets say amnesia can't fight.

kluu said...

AEC, it has been hinted at before in Buffy and shows up more in Angel that vampires don't lose all of their human traits or emotions when they are embraced. Gunn's sister still 'loves' him in her own demon tainted way and making him into a vampire is the demons greatest gift it can give to another.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

@Colleen, Riley overrided the chip by cutting it out of himself with the broken glass on the table.

I have to say that I cried when Oz showed up at Giles' house. During this rewatch, I thought I could never, ever accept Willow with Tara again after reliving the Willow/Oz relationship, but I have to say that Willow/Tara is still truly unique, powerful and believeable. Go Tara, Willow and Miss Kitty Fantastico!

How on earth did Angel know that was Riley in the alley...did Buffy have photos in her wallet???

I adore how Angel helped Faith, and I admire Wesley for allowing it to happen. Cordelia in her sunglasses heading out of the office for a while because Faith was there is a crackup, and spot on in terms of her characterization.

It's always Spike that "sees" what no one else sees, even though it's right in front of them. That's why he's so succesful at getting them to turn on eachother. I love how he is the only one to call Rupert by his first name. James Marsters is a master!!!

JS said...

I loved Sanctuary - it was very moving and powerful. And I have fallen for Wesley.

Since I have now watched all of Buffy, in retrospect it seems obvious Tara and Willow are together, but the first time around I was pretty slow on the uptake. And I'm from NYC! It hurt to watch Oz and Willow, but she made the right choice.


Maybe I'm a softee. OK, not maybe, but I loved that it required them all to come together to fight Adam. The Slayer is NOT alone, and needs those around her to fight her most challenging battles.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

@Colleen, Riley overrided the chip by cutting it out of himself with the broken glass on the table.


He had to override the chip to do that. How? He should have had no control of his body.

lyssiria said...

On "Primeval": When the uber-Slayer says to Adam that he should "Never hope to grasp the source of our power," she's really saying it to the government at large. It's really neat that the bigwigs actually get the message, or so one assumes (it is the government after all, and they don't seem to learn from their mistakes well).

@Colleen: I think Oz would have been MORE upset if Willow had moved on with a man. He's shocked, no question, because this is a change he couldn't have foreseen. Willow has only said to Buffy that she thinks her doppelganger was "kinda gay." Rational Oz knows that Willow would have to move on, even if he hasn't; it's the wolf that doesn't get it. In the wild, wolves pair for life, and that's why he reacts the way he does to his "mate's" scent on someone else. The fact that he still can tell her to run is a victory for his human side. Or is it? Does he want her to run because he's concerned that he might kill her, or does he want her to run because he wants the thrill of the chase? We'll never know.
On Riley's chipectomy: Maybe the chip allowed him to move a little, like if he was in physical peril and he found a way to exploit that? I think we're supposed to assume that Riley is a very strong individual and he can overcome a lot. Maybe.

@AEC: To echo kluu, remember that the demon doesn't get your soul, but it does have all your memories and has the capacity to want the same things you wanted. It would certainly have served Alanna's purposes to turn her brother into a vampire, and would have satisfied the demon side as well.

@ChristinaB.: It hurts EVERY time I watch it.

@Lisa: Maybe Angel could smell Buffy all over Riley and that's how he knew?

Efthymia said...

Late and not organised at all, but I will say a couple of things.

"New Moon Rising" is the episode that breaks my heart all over again. I love Oz, and I love Willow & Oz together and to have him back only to be dumped, tortured and prove that he was very wrong in thinking he had found a solution to his problem is just cruel. Ah well, I can still dream that one day Willow will turn a corner in Instanbul...

I am one more of those who believe Season 4 is the weakest -it was better this time around, the first time I was terribly diappointed, what with having loved Season 3 and all. I understand why the protagonists had to grow apart, but I still didn't like it; the wonderful Giles wasn't used enough or properly; Buffy being involved with the Initiative plainly annoyed me, as did most of the military people; Riley is so blah, and I really can't understand why Buffy is with him -I was never a fan of Angel, but in comparison, he easily outshines Riley; even though it can be argued what the Big Bad really is, Adam as the personification of the Initiative is the lamest Big Bad in the entire Buffy series (first-time watchers, rejoice!). Thank heavens for Spike, Anya, "Hush" and Faith's return...
I did like how the arc ended at least. I loved that once again it is shown that Buffy is strong because of her friends and not despite them. And I felt I was right to always like Willow, Xander and Giles a bit better than Buffy, because after all they are Spirit, Heart and Mind.

Many people talk about this Season being about science and technology vs. magic and intuition, but I disagree: in the Buffyverse, for the Slayers and the Watchers, vampires, demons etc are fact; the Scoobies have always worked in a very scientific way -research of previous works, observation, trial and error. To me it feels more like Scientists (Scoobies) vs. Crackpots (Initiative) (I am a Woman of Science, so I feel the need to defend it...).

On to the strangest season finale ever.

EBethToThePowerOf? said...

I'm so late to the party! I've been way behind on my rewatching. . .and nothing really to comment upon except:

Forrest--does anyone else think his hostility towards Buffy smack of homophobia/repressed feelings towards Riley? Just me?

Regarding Angel: Eternity and Superstar both comment upon fame and notoriety, in different ways, within one week of each other.

I love the character of Kate on Angel, and her interaction with the co-worker about Scully/Mulder is so funny, especially as an old X-Files fan:)