Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 30: Spoiler Forum

There's so much sadness coming, and I can feel it already in these episodes. Joyce getting sicker and her death; Spike's backstory and Buffy's "You're beneath me" cutting him to the quick next week; Riley leaving, which should fill me with joy but I always felt sorry for him; and Buffy's sacrifice to save Dawn. GOD I love season 5.


Dusk said...

I know most people's favorite scene in "Family" would be Tara and Willow floating, but I actually think the one a little before it is the best.

The one with "Cemented Shoes" in the background, before Riley comes into the party.

Buffy and Giles on alert for the next crisis.

Buffy pulling Dawn back as she gets too eager.

Xander cracking what appears to be a dirty joke with Willow while making eyes with Anya.

Willow and Tara happy to be together.

All in The Bronze which for once has no vampires lurking around.

This is the lasting image I have of the Scoobies for the entire show. (Comics nonwithstanding).

No "part-timers" Oz, Riley, Cordy.

No people that create tension and were'nt fully accepted into the group for a reason. Angel, Spike, Jenny, Wesley, Faith.

No last minute additions forced into the group, and failing to be likeable. Potentials, Robin, *Kennedy*.

I guess I just like it because it's a rare moment to we get to see the entire gang just enjoying each other and have no demon or heartbreak ruin the happiness.

Ken H said...

The Buffy/Riley splitup has always grabbed me. I like the point made here that Riley could belong but doesn't see how, or can't let it be enough. I don't think he ever would, so his choice to leave (and go back to what he knows) is the right one for him. It will work out, as we see in S6. Yet he'll look back, even many years later, and wonder.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

We have some brain jokes - foreshadowing Joyce and Spike's troubles.

They set Spike up to betray them by treating him like a joke. Then again, he falls in the grave so maybe they're right. Naw.

I love Buffy saying "If that's what I wanted I'd be dating Spike." Apparently it was.

Dream Spike has a nice shirt - the kind he'll sometimes wear in season six.

Glory starts to smother the monk the way that Giles will kill Ben.

Buffy says to Riley "You're a god." No, Glory is.

Spike is still deluding himself that he wants Buffy dead - which will culminate in FFL.

JS said...

I like that though we spent previous seasons working up to a final head to head conflict with the big bad, in Season 5, Buffy realizes in the first encounter that she cannot beat this one alone and immediately asks for help, from her family.

Next week, I fall in love with Spike in FFL.

I think we needed Riley as the real break between the Angel and Spike relationships with buffy. She tried a normal boyfriend, and it wasn't ever as deep, however much she thought she wanted it. She'll learn why in season seven.

Quarks said...

Another good week of Buffy episodes this week, with an explanation of exactly who or what Dawn is, and some good character development.

"Out of My Mind":

Like many people it seems, Riley isn't one of my favourite characters in "Buffy", but in this season he starts to get a bit more of my sympathy. We see that he loves Buffy, but we also see that for whatever reason he knows that their relationship isn't going to last forever. Whether it be because Buffy doesn't love him, because he doesn't have 'superpowers', because Buffy doesn't need him, or because their relationship doesn't have that passion and danger that she had with Angel (and later Spike), Riley knows that their relationship will never be what he wants it to be. So in "Into the Woods", he turns to the only other important thing in his life: the army, and leaves Buffy behind, before she can leave him.

This episode is also one of the ones where it is clear that Dawn was initially written as a younger character. How many 14 year olds do you know who empty out all the cereal to get the toy in the box?

There's perhaps a certain degree of foreshadowing when Spike is watching the TV and exclaims "Oh Pacey, you blind idiot. Can't you see she doesn't love you?"

The other important character in this episode is of course Spike, who realises that he is in love with Buffy. Personally, I preferred Spike before this, after this it seems all his storylines become centred around his obsession with Buffy. Not that he isn't awesome from now on, or that this storyline doesn't have some fantastic moments, but in many ways I liked him more as a character by himself in Season 2 and 4.

"No Place Like Home":

This episode starts to introduce the overall plot of Season 5. It shows us that Dawn was actually created by some monks in order to hide the Key, and also introduces us to Glory, the season's Big Bad. I love the plotline of Dawn being inserted into everybody's memories (which doesn't really create any problems for me in terms of how the monks knew which and whose memories to change; I just assume that the magic they create 'burrows' through the past, creating a life for Dawn and changing any necessary memories, unlike in "Angel" when someone has to physically design Connor's and the world's new memories) and I do really feel sorry for Dawn. When she discovers in "Blood Ties" what she actually is, that almost all of her memories are fake and that she was just a ball of energy, it clearly devastates her. It is memories which make us who we are, and having them tampered with, or entirely falsified, causes you to question what is real and what isn't, which is one of the reasons why Tara is so upset when Willow uses the magic to change her memory in Season 6.

While I understand from a plot point of view why they did this, surely it would have been more sensible for the monks to make the Key into a grain of sand at the bottom of the ocean, or something similar, where Glory would never find it.

Another important aspect of this episode is the opening of the Magic Box, which will become the Scoobies' base of operations until Willow destroys it in the Season 6 finale. As Nikki said in her post, in Season 5 the characters finally start to find their place in the world, and this week Anya is the one who has a purpose again, and gets a job in the Magic Box.

Quarks said...



This is one of my favourite episodes this season, if only because it's the only real Tara-centric episode we get. Obviously it doesn't compare to "The Body" or "The Gift", but I do really like it. The obvious theme in this episode, as well as in this season, and even in the show as a whole, is that family is about more than just who you are related to. Almost all the characters on "Buffy" have bad home lives, but the Scoobies become their surrogate family, who they care for, and care for them more than their actual blood kin. Perhaps it is for this reason why most of the characters get over Dawn's situation fairly quickly when they find out about it in "Blood Ties". Even if Dawn isn't Buffy's biological sister, the feelings that Buffy has for her are real, just as they are for Willow, Xander, Giles and the others, and it doesn't matter that they aren't blood related.

As I mentioned, many characters on Buffy have bad home lives, but, with the possible exception of Xander, Tara's is (or was) probably the worst. Her mother, who seemed to have been the only person who truly cared about her, died, the men in her family have abused her mentally, and I wouldn't be surprised if sometimes physically as well, and appear to be fairly misogynistic. The metaphor of magic for intimacy and, in some ways, lesbianism is also continued here: when Tara's father says that he had hoped allowing her to go to university would get the witchcraft out of her system, we can't help but think that he is also referring to her sexuality. (As a side note, while I in no way believe that the show killing off Tara was because she was a lesbian, or that the show is homophobic, which is clearly ridiculous as it was the show that created Tara and Willow's relationship, I do in a way understand the confusion, in that magic goes from being a metaphor for intimacy and, sort of, lesbianism in Seasons 4 and 5, to being a metaphor for drugs and addiction in Season 6).

There are various fantastic scenes in this episode, from the opening scene with Willow, Tara and Miss Kitty Fantastico, to the group defending Tara from her 'blood kin', to the scene at the end with Willow and Tara floating above the dance floor.

To conclude, another great week of episodes. Next week, we carry on with the plotlines developed in these episodes (Spike's crush, Joyce's illness, Riley's insecurities) in some more good episodes.

On side note, I'm now half way through the Season 8 comics, and they are awesome. Not quite as good as the TV series, or course, but still awesome. Although Issues #16-19 have got me slightly worried for a certain character's future.

Tom D. said...

The way magic is treated on Buffy works best for me as a viewer if I take it pretty much at face value rather than as a metaphor for either sex or lesbianism or drugs. Like, "magic is sexy" rather than "magic = sex." And, "magic is addictive" rather than" magic = drugs." I mean, magic is powerful, and power is notoriously addictive, and that all makes sense without needing to impose a metaphorical meaning on what happens.

So I wasn't very happy with the episodes that pushed magic-as-metaphor most strongly -- Smashed and Wrecked in particular.

Speaking of all that, the scene between Willow and Tara in the old high school in Out Of My Mind, where Tara looks quietly worried in response to Willow's improved light spell, is one of the first indications that Willow's approach to magic is going to drive a wedge between them. I wonder why Tara looks so concerned about this -- has she already detected a danger in Willow's attitude?

Colleen/redeem147 said...

How many 14 year olds do you know who empty out all the cereal to get the toy in the box?

Or women in their fifties.

I mean, um, yes....

Linda345 said...

I just finished reading an article (in "Seven Seasons of Buffy," Yeffeth) criticizing the decision to soften Spike (or, to "take away his balls"). I disagree. Yes, when Spike was bad he was one great bad monster, but that big, bad, Spike story was in danger of being overused. By Season 5, it was time for Spike to change, or die. I liked the new, improved Spike.

It didn't take so long for Riley to become tedious. Nothing against Riley--he was, essentially, a nice guy--but the episodes with him in it seemed to slow things down, take some of the adventurous edge off. Turned out that was the point. Riley didn't belong in Buffy's crazy world. Riley was an extraordinary guy, but compared to Buffy, he was "normal," and Buffy wasn't ready for normal. Last week we saw that he had come to the same realization the rest of us had, that Buffy simply didn't love him.

Suzanne said...

Linda345, I, too, disagree that the new Spike "ruined" anything. One thing I love about this show and all Joss Whedon shows is that he is not afraid to show his characters change and grow. He is also good at letting us gradually see the read person underneath the facade. I think that the Spike we saw in early Season 2 is the Spike that he wanted to project to the world, not the real Spike. We gradually see the real person underneath the vamp mask and because of his chip, he is able to grown into the person he really needed to be.