Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 36: Spoiler Forum

Once again, here is the place where you can chat openly about Buffy and Angel episodes without fear of spoiling anyone. The thing that stuck out for me the most in these episodes is the fact that once again, Willow is called upon again and again to step up and use her magic to protect everyone. Buffy says to Willow that's she's the most powerful one of the group and her magic will help save them (something that will be echoed in the series finale) but notice how many times they ask her to use that magic to help them out, and yet when Willow becomes addicted to it in the rather ham-fisted season 6 metaphor coming up, they'll all blame her and tell her to be magicks-free. While I agree things get out of control (raising the dead? After what happened in Forever?) I've always felt bad for Willow that the Scoobs helped set her up to become addicted, but turn on her when it happens.


Dusk said...

Yeah, the addiction metaphor didn't stick, I think it's the only storyline they completly override, first thing Giles says in Season 7, "It's not a hobby or addiction..."

This is the better overall finale, Chosen is the moe fitting show end, to me despite, some minor kinks.

Also if I didn't know who it was going in, I would have probably picked Ben as the face under the mask.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Giles is rejecting/fighting Spike and Buffy is telling him to back off - see Lies My Parents Told Me. And Buffy is as protective of him as she is here with Dawn. "You try and hurt her and you know I'll stop you."

We'll see catatonic Buffy again (and also Hank) in Normal Again.

Spike's right. Buffy DOES like it rough. ;) House falling down anyone?

Willow is taking control - and she'll push it up to an even higher notch in Bargaining.

The Ben/Glory transformation is similar to Willow/Warren.

Xander asks the lymph/blood question - like Caleb will later.

Efthymia said...

I don't think I can blame them for asking Willow to use her magic to help - it would be like blaming them for asking her to use the computer earlier on; they don't know what kind of relationship she has developped with magic (the only one who had seemed to see something worrying was Oz, and he hasn't been around for a while), and they think that she uses it as a tool, just like she did the computer. It's like asking a friend out for a drink ocasionally, without knowing they consume two bottles of vodka daily when they're alone -would you be to blame for their alcoholism?

Quarks said...

This is one of my favourite season finales in all of 'Buffy', especially 'The Gift' but also the other two leading into it. Overall, I would say that I prefer 'The Gift' to 'Chosen' as an episode, although I do think that 'Chosen' is more fitting as a season finale. And I'm very glad that 'Buffy' didn't end here because there are some incredible episodes to come.

One of my favourite things about this season finale is that it gives almost all the characters a fair amount of character development. One of my biggest problems with 'Chosen' is that it focuses too much on Buffy and her boyfriends and less on the Scoobies, but here almost every character is important.

For Xander, this partly comes from his proposal to Anya. I am always torn when I watch this scene, because on the one hand I think that it is quite sweet, but on the other I know that this is the beginning of the end of their relationship. If they had waited longer before getting married, perhaps the events of 'Hell's Bells' would have never happened.

For Anya, as well as this, she is also important as she comes up with the plan to fight Glory with the Dagon sphere and Olaf's hammer. In Season 7, when Buffy is complaining that Anya doesn't do anything, this is always the scene I think of. Here, Anya isn't running away from the apocalypse, like she did in Season 3, but she is helping fight it, and probably plays quite a big role in stopping it. Anya is a character who doesn't get quite as much obvious character development as others, but she is clearly very different from the vengeance demon who we first met.

For Spike, who has already had quite a lot of character development this season, we get more focus on how he is trying to be a good person and how he loves Buffy. He does everything he can to save Dawn, and after Buffy's death we see him cry for the first (and possibly last) time.

Quarks said...


For Giles, the character development isn't quite so complimentary. Once again we see the Ripper hiding below the surface, and Giles making the hard choices that Buffy can't. There's a line Giles says in one of the Season 8 comics that gives perhaps a little more insight into why he does what he does here. It's pretty non-spoilery: "Those of us who refused to pay the piper during our adolescence have a responsibility to shoulder the most unpleasant costs of adulthood". And that is what Giles does in this episode. Because of what he did as Ripper, he feels that it is his responsibility to do the 'unsavoury' things involved in saving the world.

For Dawn, one of the moments I most like her in this season is just after Buffy has freed her at the top of the tower. Dawn knows that the only way to stop the world being destroyed is the sacrifice herself, and she is willing to do that.

For Willow, once again it is her magic that plays the important role in the final plan. I suppose the key difference between what she does here and what she does in Season 6 is that here she is doing it to help others, while in Season 6 she starts performing magic for much more selfish reasons. I think that the rest of the Scoobies are too inexperienced with magic to see the dangers associated with it, and the only one who could is Tara, who is 'crazy' for most of this week. If she hadn't been, I suspect she wouldn't have been as happy as the others about the Scoobies being so dependent on Willow's magic.

As the titular character, Buffy naturally gets the most character development, and in this season finale she gets more more than usual. She is faced with a hard decision: sacrifice her sister, the only family she has left, or allow an apocalypse. And, in typical Buffy style, she finds a way to stop both. There is a line Buffy says in Season 7 which really annoys me, which is: "For 7 years, I've kept us safe by doing this— exactly this, making the hard decisions." My problem with this line is that, as we see in this episode, Buffy doesn't make the hard decisions in most cases, she finds another, better way. And that is in many ways she is such a good character and a good Slayer.

I do have a couple of small nitpicks with this week of episodes. Firstly, correct me if I'm wrong, but Buffy has a clear rule against killing humans. She objects to killing Warren in Season 6 because she only kills demons. And yet the Knights of Byzantium are human. I appreciate that they are in the middle of a battle and there are going to be casualties, and that she is doing it to protect Dawn, but I would have expected more of a reaction from Buffy about killing humans.

The second small nitpick is really more one with 'Bargaining' and it is such a beautiful scene in this episode that I really hate to nitpick it. In 'Bargaining' we discover that the Scoobies have been hiding the news of Buffy's death from the world. So why does she have a headstone telling the world that she is dead?

Despite those small nitpicks, this is a phenomenal end to a fantastic season. Next up we have Season 6, which is also great and has some episodes I can't wait to rewatch.

Dusk said...

Quarks:I don't think it's humans that Buffy has a problem with dying, it's ordinary humans with no supernatural power. Nobody says anything about Willow killing Rack, I think because Rack is a warlock. Buffy herself does something similar in the 3rd arc of the comics, after leaping off a "diving board".

The knights had medival weapons training and at least some of them were magically inclined. Ben had Glory forced into him, he himself has no skills, and he actually tried to help Buffy & Dawn at the start.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

There's no real indication that the big guy Buffy neck slices at the skating rink isn't human, either. They make it clear that the order has both human and demons.

But the knights are human AND are trying to save the world. Normally they and Buffy would be on the same side.

BTW - the monks made Dawn from a glowing ball of energy. Does she have a soul?

Dusk said...

There is no indication Dawn is souless, and if a demon in Africa has can get souls, then so can the monks. Also, 3 monks do the spell. We see Glory kill one, and the one Buffy rescues dies, so maybe the third one gave up his life and soul for the Key.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

That's kind of an interesting idea, Dusk. I wonder if that's where Dawn gets her proficiency in languages.

I figured Spike was getting his own soul back (We will return your soul). Souls are such a nebulous concept on Buffy and Angel, but they seem quite important.

Dusk said...

I always assumed vampire souls don't go to Heaven or anywhere good, so powerful/connected a demon that could get into wherever their kept, (Africian Spike tester) could transfer them back to their owners, maybe you have to be with the Powers for that, maybe not. Somehow the line between vampire souls and this world is kept open, if only for the Sanshu's sake.

Dawn on the other hand is an innocent, so monks's soul is probably better suited then one of a vampire.

Dusk said...

Also I don't know who it was the I talked with about the "Spike" comic, I got and read it. There is a connection to S8 other then the obvious one.

Willow makes an implied refrence to Giant Dawn, and I geeked out and compared the art. The only difference in her outfit from "Spike" to her first appearence in S8, is she has a green top on over her white shirt.

Geeking out further, I remembered in Tabula Rosa, we see she can magically change her outfit in a few seconds, so I am led to believe the night the "Spike" comic ends is the same night Willow shows up in S8, and she probably added an extra layer because it would likley be colder at night in a Scottish woods, then a night in Las Vegas.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I just figured the soul of the human who died and became a vampire was released and went - well, wherever souls go. Heaven? The soul repository? Newborn babies? A glowy bowling ball?

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I'm not doing the Angel rewatch (this time) but one thing I realized in Pylea was that Angel was in love with Cordy. Stoopid Groo. (Okay, not really, cause I love the big lug.)

Blam said...

@Robert: [In "Amends"] snow begins to fall on Sunnydale for the first and likely only time, blocking out the sun and saving Angel's not-life.

Given that Sunnydale only lasted a few more years, "only" is a safe bet. (I wanted to see a headstone at the end of the series that read "Sunnydale / 1899-2003 / It Endangered the World. / A Lot.")

Blam said...

@Efthymia: I don't think I can blame them for asking Willow to use her magic to help ... It's like asking a friend out for a drink occasionally, without knowing they consume two bottles of vodka daily when they're alone

Y'know, I agreed with everything that you wrote that I ellipsis'd out but I realized after reading your last line that Giles for one (also kind-of Tara and Willow herself, I think) did frequently mention how overwhelmingly big a spell she'd just done, so it's more like asking that friend out and realizing that they were casually downing a bottle of vodka while you nursed your martini.

And she does kinda get drunk on her power, even if I wouldn't so much go for the addiction metaphor as the old "power corrupts" maxim.

VW: britend — 1. A bum (not a panhandler; a tush, a fanny, the buttocks region). 2. Farthest point of the United Kingdom's territorial waters in the English Channel or Atlantic Ocean.

Blam said...

@redeem: Souls are such a nebulous concept on Buffy and Angel, but they seem quite important.

... As opposed to "real life" where they're so concrete and trivial?!? 8^)

VW: funce — Enjoyable action that can't be repeated.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Far as I know, Blam, people here aren't losing their souls willy nilly.

Though that could explain politicians...

Suzanne said...

@Colleen/redeem147, this time around, I, too, noticed that Angel was in love with Cordelia. The first time I saw it, I must have been in denial about it because I noticed some of the clues, but I always chalked them up to him having a brotherly feeling for Cordy, like when he says something like "but I just got her back." Now that seems like a pretty obvious romantic statement, but I somehow rationalized it as a protective, brotherly feeling.

I love Gru, too, so I don't mind that he got in the way. Later obstacles that come up bugged me a lot more -- Connor, for instance.

db said...

It amazes me that in many (most) other series, episodes like Triangle and Intervention would be throwaway eps, filler, but here, they become crucial. What kind of finale would we have if there wasn’t Olaf’s hammer. And the Buffybot.

And the way the humor and pain is twisted together through the Buffybot in the Season 6 opening. The word salad knock-knock joke which is both sidesplitting and devastating.

The heartbreaking scene where Dawn sleeps next to the bot.

I wonder about Buffy’s prescience in relating to April’s humanity. Are robots mortal or immortal? Well, perhaps these categories don’t apply, but IWMTLY asks me to wonder about what kind of creature the bot is, and I do. Especially when the bot becomes Buffy and stands in for our dead Buffy.

Questions about souls, memories, mortality – what defines humanity – or another, better word that acknowledges the depth and empathy any sentient creature displays.

The filmmakers sometimes seem to quail when they get caught up in logos, logic, concepts. Especially, if they try to provide logical answers. Viz.: Spike does not have a soul therefore he is evil, when he gets his soul he is no longer evil. This is an example of mythos working through the writers despite themselves – unbeknownst to them a powerful force is narrating through them, which sometimes seems to contradict their conscious idea of what a soul is and where it might exist.

But back to cartoons. The cartoon hijinks are something I treasure (Who doesn’t love Willow’s season 4 analysis of Roadrunner: “That’s why they call them cartoons and not documentaries.”)

I love that Glory calls the Scoobies cartoon characters and is then felled by Xander’s wrecking ball. And that this sits comfortably, side by side, with Buffy’s swan dive from the tower without, in any way, detracting from the intensity of that moment, from its seriousness and power. How do they do that?

I recently watched the Gift paired with Once More With Feeling (in an attempt to convert an unbeliever -- I was marginally successful in that the watcher did not leave the room) and was completely mesmerized by the resonance between these episodes. All the backstory and continuity from this crucial season finale ends up in a musical episode – conveyed by songs – and furthermore – the songs also further the plot and set up transformations that will impact the next two seasons.

Hearing Dawn say “The hardest thing in the world is to live in it.”

How do they do that?

Feeling grateful for a community to talk about Buffy. This is new for me.

Blam said...

@DB: The word salad knock-knock joke which is both sidesplitting and devastating.

I hate to be (perhaps ironically) pedantic here, and on the larger point agree with you, but the knock-knock joke is actually not word salad. "That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, Bingo!" is word salad; the knock-knock joke is a verbatim playback of the preceding dialogue exchange that sounds like nonsense when all strung together but is actually bunched logically by Buffybot in context.

@DB: I love that Glory calls the Scoobies cartoon characters and is then felled by Xander’s wrecking ball. And that this sits comfortably, side by side, with Buffy’s swan dive from the tower without, in any way, detracting from the intensity of that moment, from its seriousness and power. How do they do that?

More nice observations! I suspect that we could even come up with examples of our characters being able to do things (Spike fighting the lab docs right after his chip was put in? Angel entering Kate's apartment to save her life?) because they don't know that they're not supposed to be able to do them, much like the cartoon characters who successfully run off a cliff and start jogging on air until they look down to encounter reality.

VW: scantedo — Very little information on Tokyo under its former name.

Blam said...

@DB: This is new for me.

I think you'll like it here and I'm glad you decided to comment. As I said in the non-spoilers forum, Welcome aboard! I just wish that I were saying that with a better track record of posting myself lately.