Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Buffy Rewatch: Week 37

6.01 Bargaining, Part 1
6.02 Bargaining, Part 2
6.03 After Life

Follow along in Bite Me!, pp. 277-281

This week’s Angel episodes are:

3.01 Heartthrob
3.02 That Vision-Thing
3.03 That Old Gang of Mine

Follow along in Once Bitten, pp. 197-202.

I’m very pleased that this week’s guest host is Elizabeth Rambo, because she’s the editor of a book exclusively on seasons 6 and 7 of BtVS called Buffy Goes Dark, and I always thought that was such a brilliant title: not only does the series itself “go dark” at the end of season 7 because it’s over, but Buffy herself certain goes dark in these final seasons. Exhibit A: This week’s episodes.

I posted this week about the Buffy Lives posters to try to recreate the anticipation that viewers felt back at the beginning of season 6. But in a very strange bit of timing, we’re actually only a couple of weeks away from the 10th anniversary of season 6 beginning. And today is a couple of days after a far more important 10th anniversary: September 11. That horrific day in world history changed everything, and one of the millions of things it changed was the way we watched the premiere of season 6. The show was darker, edgier, more violent, and people were finding September 11 significances throughout the season (despite the fact the episode had been filmed long before the events of September 11). I still remember the comments that followed the two-part premiere (both parts aired together): Willow is wearing a shirt with the #11 on it!! (To which someone from the show, it might have been Joss, replied that Xander’s shirt had a 13 and Dawn’s had a 9, and maybe they’d just gotten a deal on numbered shirts…) Everything is so dark and awful! A gang comes to town and acts like… terrorists!

But for me, even today, it’s that tower crashing down that conjures up September 11. I heard (this may or may not be true) that UPN had considered excising that scene from the episode so we wouldn’t see another tower come crashing down so soon after the Twin Towers had fallen. But they left it in.

I remember the fans reacting to the violence and graphic nature of this episode. The gang is extremely violent… we see a decomposed Buffy (that still makes my stomach turn)… Willow is tortured by the dark powers that be… and worst of all, Razor threatens to rape the women of the group in an extremely brutal way, suggesting that the men of their group have penises that will rip the girls apart from the inside. Good god…

But this is a new world. Not just in our world, but in Buffy’s fictional one. Season 5 ended Buffy’s childhood completely. From here on out the monsters and vampires and things that go bump are no longer metaphors for teenage angst or parents not understanding or the harshness of trying to see a future when you’re 16 – it’s about trying to make a living and watching life become difficult and responsibilities overwhelming you. It’s about life walloping you so hard you can’t believe you ever complained about anything before the age of 20. It’s proof that, as Buffy said, the hardest thing about this life is to live in it.

Buffy died, and she believed she was in Heaven. She was happy and comfortable and knew her job was complete, that she had fulfilled her Slayer destiny and had died saving the world. She wasn’t defeated, she was victorious, and her friends will go on and live their lives, and be happy because of what Buffy did.

But now she’s back. Ripped out of Heaven, as she puts it, by the people she loves. Of course, Willow thought she was saving her friend from a Hell dimension. Willow will resent Buffy for not thanking her for doing her such a great service; Dawn will resent Buffy because her sister is not overjoyed to be back with her. Buffy had finally found peace – but now she’s back, and just as the BuffyBot was drawn and quartered in the town square, Buffy is being ripped in many different directions, until she no longer knows what she wants. Dawn tells Buffy she needs Buffy to live.

Buffy is loved, immensely. Willow is willing to let horrible things happen to her to bring Buffy back. Dawn curls up with a recharging robot every night just to be close to her sister (that image broke my heart). Everyone has changed, and is different, more somber, more serious. Willow is much darker than we’ve ever seen her… the same girl who last season said, “Don’t hurt the horsies!” during the battle in “Spiral” now kills Bambi without blinking. Giles leaves town because he feels there’s nothing there for him without Buffy. (Sniff… at the time I remember seeing “Special Guest Star” at the beginning of the episode for him and was more upset that he was leaving the show than I was about Buffy dying.)

Of course, they miss one key thing in their plans: that Buffy will come back to life inside her coffin, and will have to claw her way to the surface just like a vampire. What a horrifying, terrifying moment that is, and the way it’s handled in the episode is brilliant. Of course, it’s Xander who figures it out (too late) and the looks on Buffy’s friends’ faces is beyond description.

Buffy won’t have long to recover before she’ll be back doing what she does best: taking care of everyone around her. It’s not about what Buffy wants or needs; it never has been. Buffy is back, and must return to a life of living it for others. In seasons 6 and 7, Buffy will go dark indeed.

• Spike. I just love that this guy stepped up and took Buffy’s responsibility onto his own shoulders. He helps the gang fight. He doesn’t complain when he’s asked to babysit Dawn. In fact, he’s a hell of a good babysitter. He misses Buffy terribly, and he feels responsible for the fact that he couldn’t save her. I remember when Buffy came back, all I cared about was seeing the look on his face when he saw her again.
• Spike asking if Giles’s life passed before his eyes, in one of the most oft-quoted lines in Buffydom: “Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea?”
• Anya complaining that they can’t resurrect Buffy the following night: “Tomorrow? The Discovery Channel has monkey and our tape machine is all wonky!”
• Xander says, "Great googly moogly!" I now recognize that as the oft-repeated line from The Beast in the children's cartoon, "Maggie and the Ferocious Beast." I watched it this time and thought, "Gasp! Did the Beast's line originate from Xander?" But then I googled it, and it appears to be a line used in blues music, and was made popular by Frank Zappa. Which makes that children's cartoon way cooler than I thought it was before. ;)
• Anya saying the BuffyBot is the descendant of a toaster.
• Tara holding the little monster puppet and doing Joss’s “Grr… Argh…”
• The geek vampire wearing a Hanson shirt.
• The camera effects of Buffy’s distorted and fuzzy point of view. Beautiful.
• Even in the face of all the bad things that happen, Dawn saying, “The tower was built by crazy people and I don’t think it’s holding up very well” has always made me laugh.
• Xander to Willow: How long have you known your girlfriend is Tinkerbell?

And now let’s welcome Elizabeth Rambo back to the rewatch! Take it away, Elizabeth!

As you might guess, since I’m partly responsible for a book on Seasons Six and Seven, these are two of my favorites. I’m not going to detail every scene of these first three episodes, but just try to put them in their original 2001 context, and comment on how they set the stage for the remainder of Season Six. When one is watching or re-watching Buffy on DVD and can go straight from the heartbreaking ending of season five straight to season six, it may be hard to understand or recall what the first episodes of Season Six meant back in 2001. Buffy had died before, of course. Remember the end of Season One, “Prophecy Girl”? She’s revived by Xander and comes up saying, “I feel strong. I feel different. Let’s go!” The first episode of Season Two, “When She Was Bad,” reveals that she does have some residual post-traumatic stress, but Giles deals with it, and we’re all good. Buffy is emotionally devastated at the end of Season Two, leaves Sunnydale, and tries to leave her Slayer identity behind. As Season Three opens, she is Anne the waitress in LA, but a trip to a demon underworld reminds her that she is not “no one,” but “I’m Buffy. The Vampire Slayer,” able to save the hapless victims and smash the demons. Another episode in Sunnydale, “Dead Man’s Party,” wraps up her issues with her family and friends. One or two episodes for Buffy to reclaim her mojo, and then the season swings into action. Right?

Wrong. Joss Whedon, king of subverting expectations. King of “give the viewers what they need, not what they want.” (I can hear some of you still saying, “No, no, give us what we WANT.”) But in addition what some may see as perverse Joss-ness (or genius Joss-ness, you decide), there are some real differences between the beginning of Season Six and all previous seasons. The greatest difference in terms of narrative: Buffy has been dead for a little over four months—a “hundred-forty-seven days,” according to Spike, “longer,” according to Buffy (“After Life”). Even a Slayer doesn’t just bounce back after that, and Willow says as much. Of course, the Scoobies believe Buffy has been in a “hell dimension,” an experience more analogous to Angel’s after being sucked into the vortex of Acathla, and after the Powers That Be mysteriously returned him to Sunnydale it took at least four episodes for him to be fit for human society again. We get a hint that this is wrong when resurrected Buffy’s first words in “Bargaining,” at the top of the tower “built by [Glory’s] crazy people,” are to ask Dawn: “Is this Hell?” But when Buffy reveals (only to Spike) that her “afterlife” experience was not at all hellish, we should understand that this comeback will take more than three or four episodes:

I was happy. At peace. I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time…didn't mean anything…nothing had form…but I was still me, you know? And I was warm…and I was loved…and I was finished. Complete. I don't understand about theology or dimensions, or…any of it, really…but I think I was in heaven. And now I'm not. I was torn out of there. Pulled out…by my friends. Everything here is…hard, and bright, and violent. Everything I feel, everything I touch…this is Hell. Just getting through the next moment, and the one after that…knowing what I've lost…. They can never know. Never. (“After Life”)

If every slayer comes with a death wish, it must be to reach this sense of being “finished. Complete.” Buffy has always been ambivalent about her calling, and as she tells Dawn, standing at the top of the rickety tower in “Bargaining,” “It was so…clear…on this spot. I remember…how…shiny…and clear everything was,” as she recalls saving Dawn and the world by sacrificing herself in “The Gift.” And now, she’s wondering if that was all for nothing.

Two other factors were different when Season Six was first broadcast:
1. New network. The show moved from the WB to UPN for the last two seasons. Whether this made a difference or not has been debated (for example, by Edwards and Haines in “Reality Bites: Buffy in the UPN Years,” Buffy Goes Dark). The show did become more controversial during Seasons Six and Seven, for many reasons. However, for some, this transition marked a definite change in mood and content. However, I’d say the narrative itself, along with the second external factor accounts for more of those changes.
2. September 11, 2001. Lynne Edwards, James South and I note in the Preface to Buffy Goes Dark:
The first episodes of Season Six premiered in October 2001, less than a month after the stunning September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon. Although Joss Whedon had stated that plans for Buffy’s sixth season were mapped out as the fifth season ended [in May 2001], viewers may have been expecting their favorite show to provide an escape or antidote to the real world horror and devastation the daily news brought closer every day. (7-8)
I knew many people who started watching Buffy for the first time that fall, relying on the FX reruns to catch up with previous seasons and simultaneously watching Season Six.

When things change, people look for signs of the familiar. Season Six begins by sending numerous defamiliarizing signals that it’s going to be “the anti-Buffy,” as I call it in my essay in Buffy Goes Dark, which you shouldn’t read unless you want to be spoiled for the entire season. For example, the fact that the “power shot” of Buffy that ends the Season Six credit sequence is the BuffyBot, not Buffy (also see David Kociemba’s “‘Actually, it explains a lot’: Reading the Opening Title Sequences in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but beware of spoilers), and in “Bargaining,” the perky, feisty Buffy we’ve come to expect is also enacted by the BuffyBot. Kudos to Sarah Michelle Gellar for playing living dead (but not a zombie!) real Buffy and lifelike android Buffy so well. “That’ll put marzipan in your pie plate bingo!” is one of my favorite lines.

Among the other characters, the main thing that describes their interactions is withholding information or outright lying, even if it’s lying to spare one another’s feelings.

Giles doesn’t tell the gang he’s leaving, just leaves them a note, “trying to avoid a scene.” When the Scoobies manage to stage a farewell at the airport anyway, they try to keep it cheerful and “stiff-upper-lippy,” trying to reassure him that they’ll be all right without him, but after his plane takes off, Xander admits, “My face was getting sore from all that faux smiling.”

Willow doesn’t tell Tara the full extent of the sacrifice she’ll have to make for the resurrection spell, killing a faun, or if she tells Tara, she certainly doesn’t tell the others. We’ve seen Willow go dark before, when she took revenge on Glory for brain-sucking Tara. But I never thought I’d see her go do any of this stuff. No wonder she didn’t tell Giles.

Xander proposed to Anya at the end of Season Five; she thinks announcing their engagement will cheer everyone up, but he wants to keep the secret. Is Anya out of sync again, or is Xander ambivalent about the relationship?

Spike seems to be part of the team at the end of Season Five, and chases down vampires with them in the “Bargaining” teaser, as well as taking care of Dawn, but he is left completely out of the loop on the resurrection spell plans, although he’s clearly the one who understands Buffy’s ordeal best. Dawn, too, can’t be told the truth, even though the consequences of the resurrection spell immediately concern her.

The BuffyBot is also a lie, of course, and eventually that lie is exposed, starting a train of events that end with Buffy coming face to face with her dismembered robot torso, adding to her disorientation.

“After Life” seems to present the gruesome “consequences” Spike warns will result from Willow’s magic spell, the “thaumogenesis demon” that is swiftly dealt with, but Buffy’s effort to fulfill expectations continues the “lying” theme. When she makes Dawn’s lunch (another “normal” action), Dawn says “it'll be better now. Now that they can see you being happy. That's all they want.” And so Buffy tells the Scooby gang what they want to hear. But she tells Spike the truth. And there will be more consequences.

Thank you, Elizabeth!

Next week: Buffy discovers what it’s like to get a job, we meet three goofballs from the past, and Dawn is annoying. Must be Tuesday.

6.04 Flooded
6.05 Life Serial
6.06 All the Way

And on Angel, we’ll watch:

3.4 Carpe Noctem
3.5 Fredless
3.6 Billy

See you then!


Marebabe said...

You’d think I would learn, after a lifetime of TV fandom, to always be on the lookout for that favorite of screenwriters, the Plot-Twist. So there I was, settling in to watch “Bargaining, Part 1”, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but, um, BUFFY, alive and fighting a vampire with the Scoobies! (Didn’t she die at the end of season five? Oh, I get it. Unannounced dream sequence. Yeah, that makes sense.)

And then it turned out to be the Buffy-Bot. A) I had no idea that it could be fixed up good as new. Secondly, I never dreamed that she/it would be a recurring character/device. Henceforward, I will always question who or what I’m seeing whenever Sarah Michelle Gellar is portraying Buffy Summers in a scene.

When Willow killed the fawn and thanked it for its life and sacrifice, I was reminded of the Native Americans who believed that every being and part of the earth (even rocks and water) were alive and were their brothers. They recognized that all their food, even plants, had to die so they could live. So when a hunter killed a rabbit to feed his family, he thanked the rabbit for its life. When gathering edible and medicinal plants, he thanked the plants for their life. To them, the Spirit That Moves In All Things was really the Spirit That Moves In ALL Things! A very wonderful and balanced way to live in harmony with the earth.

I LOVED Tara’s little toy monster saying “Grrr, Argh!”

In “Bargaining, Part 2”, I was waiting for the moment when Willow and the rest of them realized their horrible mistake of not opening Buffy’s grave before attempting the spell. For the longest time, they assumed that the trauma Buffy had suffered was some vague torture in a hellish dimension. They never considered that waking up six feet under and having to claw your way out of your casket would be enough to leave anyone in a catatonic state roughly forEVER! (Anyone else, who didn’t possess Slayer-strength, would’ve panicked and suffocated. *shudder*)

When Xander called himself a manwitch instead of a warlock, I found myself wishing that would catch on. It’s such a cute-sounding name. And just in case you Buffy fans in other parts of the world have never heard of it, here in the U.S. we have a product called Manwich sauce. Brown and drain one pound of ground beef, stir in one can of Manwich sauce, spoon it onto hamburger buns, and presto! Sloppy Joes aka Manwiches. Yum. :)

Marebabe said...

To me, Spike was the star of “After Life”. The look on his face when he realizes it’s the real Buffy, risen from the grave. *melt* And his “Every night I save you” speech. Compelling evidence that Spike really loves Buffy, truly and deeply.

And thank you, Spike (and the writers), for telling us that it’s been 47 days since Buffy died! I was real fuzzy on how much time had passed, because I noticed things like the full covering of green grass on Buffy’s grave, the beautifully carved headstone already in place, the severe decomposition of dead Buffy, and yet, Glory’s tower still standing (barely). Also, I WAS wondering about the passage of time because there was no new Slayer on the scene yet, but Nikki explained about the rules of Slayer-succession in the comments last week. (Thanks again, Nikki!) Anyway, finding out that 47 days had passed felt like the moment when your eyes finally find something familiar to focus on when you’re lost in a thick fog. It was a relief.

When Anya referred to Buffy suffering from “jetlag from hell”, I thought, how very accurate. Because the word ‘hell’ is often translated (from Greek or Aramaic? I forget) as the abode of the dead or gravedom. I’m sure Anya meant ‘hell’ as a place of torment, but I think of ‘hell’ as simply the grave.

This struck me as one of the darkest and saddest Buffy episodes ever. Before she died, Buffy saved the world. A lot. Now she’s saving her well-meaning friends from the horrible guilt they would feel if they understood what they did to her. They yanked her away from her heavenly reward, back to the pain and suffering that is life on the Hellmouth. If Buffy is EVER able to be bright and cheerful again, we can add super-psyche to her list of super-powers. She’s had enough trauma and grief to totally cripple any normal human being.

Dusk said...

Whose going to watch Ringer in less then an hour. Me!

OK, seing this as a first-timer that has to wait weeks would have been especially creepy.

I assum most demons and other evils would have been fooled by the Buffybot, and thought if the Sunnydale Slayer can take down someone with Glory's reputation they stay away. So only chaotic bikers got int the fray.

I also asume the LA team knows the whole Key story now, and offscreen, Angel, Cordy and probably Wes stopped by Buffy's grave.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

We have Manwiches in Canada too. And warlocks (but they don't fit on buns.)

I'm glad you both wrote about 9/11 in relation to Buffy. When all the other shows were trying to be Buffybot cheery so as not to bring the audience down, Buffy was the only one that reflected how I felt. This was the season where I became an addict.

Spike and Giles seem to be bonding as they slay (two Brit guys.) Tony and James were close on set because they were the oldest (and I'm pretty sure music had something to do with it.)

You know, there could be a clog-eating monster in Sunnydale.

Angel was physically in a hell dimension. Sucked right on in. Buffy died. Why would Willow assume that she was in hell?

I understand Dawn and the Bot cuddling. I have this Puppet Spike doll...

Giles - machines don't have chi. Poor Giles.

The biker bar reminds me of the vampire bar in From Dusk Til Dawn. So, are they Hell's Angels or Satan's Choice? ;)

I thought Willow was using the name Adonai because she's Jewish, but I looked it up and it's originally Phoenician.

Wow, that black market is really black.

I think the biker demons look like the aliens hunting the blocks in The Fifth Element.

After four months, wouldn't unembalmed Buffy be more skeletal than dried up? Oh, the things I think of. Must be Bones.

Spike's feeling more like a man - he grabs a cross without thinking.

Does Anya honestly think that Willow would be happy to know she's engaged to Xander?

In half an hour I'm going to watch SMG play another dual role on Ringers. Likely no bots.

Why did the town leave the tower standing? It's a major health hazard and it didn't have a permit. Did things go downhill municipally when The Mayor died? (Did they elect Rob Ford?)

When Buffy says the house looks different, is she really talking about furniture or her perspective on everything?

Spike and Buffy now have a strong connection - coffin cleaning. Later he hits his hand and they both have bloody knuckles. This reminds me of the Spike scratch/Buffy red paint in School Hard.

Spike is holding Buffy's hands calmly and things are peaceful. Then the gang busts in all noisy and disruptive.

These episodes have some of the best Spike scenes. I don't think he's just crying because Buffy is back - he thought he was a part of the group and now he's been excluded. Stoopid Xander.

Anya's eyes are very Evil Dead.

Buffy briefly stops in front of the statue, giving her angel wings.

Is it just me or does the gift with purchase demon sound like the first Slayer?

Look how quickly Willow has fallen. First she kills a faun, then she skins Elmo and makes a shirt out of him.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

It was 147 days, Marebabe (see user name.)

Marebabe said...

Correction: it's been 147 days, not 47 days. I didn't hear the "hundred" when Spike was talking about that. It's telling that, after so much time has passed, Spike is still counting it, not in weeks, but in DAYS.

VW: herts - yes, it does. :(

Page48 said...

Buffy goes to Hell. Apparently the Scoobies didn't have high hopes for Buffy's after life.

Spike sticks around Sunnydale, helps out with the slayage, and takes care of Dawnie, even after Buffy's 147 days gone. Atta boy Spike. Gotta feel for the Spikester, he's trying hard, not that Xander would notice.

The cemetery has a Weeping Angel.

Semi-retirement for Anthony Head. Yuk. Giles is the adult supervision.

Ah, it was the mystical energy that killed Buffy. I wondered, cuz she and Glory took a pretty good tumble from part way up the tower earlier with no ill effects.

Willow says Buffy should go ahead and get some sleep cuz "long day". Ha!

I don't have a football shirt. Apparently, I'm the only one.

147 days in a coffin followed by involuntary re-animation = really bad hair.

Shelf life for a tower is only +/- 147 days?

Snakes alive, Willow! How disgusting was that?

Dawnie (the budding mindless little automaton) riding bitch and sporting a football helmet.

These were great episodes.

I watched "Ringer". I'm not saying it put marzipan in my pie plate, but I'm going to keep watching long enough to see if it goes anywhere. I don't know that I would be getting involved at all if not for SMG.

Nurse Brian said...

Wow, it's been a long time since I've participated in a discussion on Nikki's blog!

So what wacky adventures have Jack, Sawyer, Hurley, Kate, and Sayid gotten into this wee....


Anyway, BtVS and Angel!

One of the things that haunted me when I was a young teenager is the reanimation and resurrection of Buffy. The CG of her dried up eye sockets re-filling with "goop" (that's a nurse term! j/k) is a bit... eck. (Maybe it's seeing such a beloved character for the past five years return from what appears to be a 147 day sleep in a tanning bed.)

Going from that, it really makes the case that Buffy's return wasn't a beautiful "whoosh", "sparkle," & "ta-da", but a sort of abrupt "yank" and "wham".

One thing I noticed was Willow's desire to say "You're Welcome" to Buffy without hearing an explicit "Thank You" from our un-deceased Slayer, who we then realize didn't want to say it at all.

And I know how "great googly moogly" predates Buffy, but it's a phrase I've said often because of Xander.

Dawn breathing fire in "After Life" made me laugh so hard for some reason! I couldn't take her possession seriously. (Not so much Michelle's acting, more like the fire-breathing effect).

Poor Buffybot.
Beloved Sister to a Toaster
Devoted Android to the Scoobies
She had sex with Spike
A Lot

RE: Angel

I agree fully with Nikki that Season 3 (and 5) are my favorite seasons of Angel, so I'm glad to be jumping on at this point of the rewatch.

...Although, it's really hard to shake Kal Penn's appearance on Angel when he is forever Kumar to me from the "Harold & Kumar" movies. I was waiting for a "pot" joke whenever he was on screen.

And Fred. How I love Fred. I know we only saw small scenes with her this week, but next week truly lets Amy Acker shine as Miss Burkle.

Glad to join in with you guys!

The Question Mark said...

This was a great week for both shows. I don't have time to leave a very detailed comment this week, so I'll just share my highlight:

Angel whipping a crowbar through a limousine window and landing a perfect headshot on Fez-Kumar. Most satisfying moment of the entire week! Nobody messes with Angel's friends!

Efthymia said...

Anthony Steward Head is no longer a regular cast member?! Giles is leaving?! This is the worst season opener EVER!!!
OK, it isn't but the only other thing that had me crying so early on was "Up". I don't want Giles to go (she said stomping her foot down).

I never blamed Willow for not saying anything to either Giles or Dawn. She knew that there was a good chance that something could go wrong, and she didn't want them to get their hopes up, and she also knew that it would be harder for them to act as necessary if Buffy came out all wrong. Spike would also be happy with whatever version of Buffy came out and he would try to protect it/her, so it makes sense not telling him as well. Plus, because Spike is so great and loved a character, we viewers seem to forget that this is the same guy who once kidnapped Willow and threatened to kill her, and another time entered her room and tried to bite her - Willow is quite excused not to have cuddly feelings towards him and not to consider him a friend.
I also understand why she thought that Buffy was in hell. The only other resurrection after a mystical death she knows of is that of Angel, who definitely was in hell, and Buffy was sucked in a dimnsion-crumbling-thingy out of which various monsters came out and into which Glory was planning on entering. Although her desire to see her friend back was a motive, I don't think that her decision to try and resurrect her was made out of selfishness.

I still dislike Dawn, but I have to admit that I do feel for her: in less than a year she found out that her past is fake and that she originally was a ball of energy, her mother died and her sister died. At this point, she has every right to be obnoxious (and she's actually less so than she was before any of that happened. At this point.).

Pfff, Angel, Schmangel! Who needs a soul? Spike shows more heart and is nowhere near as bland.

You know, two of my favourite TV shows (LOST & BtVS) wouldn't really exist if people actually TALKED to each other...

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elrambo said...

Nikki wrote:
"I still remember the comments that followed the two-part premiere (both parts aired together): Willow is wearing a shirt with the #11 on it!! (To which someone from the show, it might have been Joss, replied that Xander’s shirt had a 13 and Dawn’s had a 9, and maybe they’d just gotten a deal on numbered shirts…)"

Oh those numbered shirts! That trend may have continued for a few more episodes--I'll have to watch. Writers Marti Noxon & David Fury comment on the numbers kerfuffle in the 6.1-2 DVD commentary. It seems to have been completely coincidental by a wardrobe person apparently unaware of fans' tendency to analyze EVERY LITTLE detail. Or else someone thought it would be an amusing way to take advantage of that tendency & throw everyone off track? Uh-huh.

Marebabe said...

@Nurse Brian: It’s beyond wonderful seeing you back on here! Loved your epitaph for the Buffybot. :P And your enthusiasm for the later seasons of Angel is catching. Looking forward to the epicness to come!

@Efthymia: You always bring up good points, but this week even more so. Your discussion of why Willow and everyone else thought Buffy must be in hell reminded me of the reasons I just went along with it. Given the evidence, it sort of made sense. And your last two items, “Angel Schmangel” and “if people actually TALKED to each other” really rang the bell of truth for me. Nice.

Blam said...

Quick comments 'n' fave quotes…

Angel 3.1 "Heartthrob"

Cordelia: "Oh my gosh… It's gorgeous! (gasps) And look how it brings out my breasts! (pauses) You know you were all thinkin' it."

I sure was, but in what she was wearing Liberace would've been thinkin' it.

Nurse: "You can't go in there; he's sloughing!"

Cordelia: "The Ring of Amara — When you had that, you were invincible. Does he have a ring?"
Angel: "No."
Cordelia: (thinks) "Did the Amara people make cufflinks, or belt buckles…?"

Blam said...

Buffy 6.1 "Bargaining: Part 1"
Buffy 6.2 "Bargaining: Part 2"

As Homer Simpson would say, "Doe!" 8^)

The headstone makes absolutely no sense if they're trying to keep Buffy's death a secret.

Buffy was buried in that? I have limited experience in these matters, thankfully, but in both reality and fiction I'm used to seeing the deceased not dressed in black like the mourners are but rather (as was suggested for Joyce in "The Body") just something nice — perhaps a dark suit for the men and light colors if not symbolically pure white for the women. Yet the writers opted to have our hero revived in a gown from The Morticia Addams Collection to complement her "Beer Bad" hair and a sullen look that makes her come off like Avril Lavigne on a bender.

Buffybot: "That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, Bingo!"

Writers David Fury and Marti Noxon explain in their episode commentary that the phrase came about because "the Buffy bot was supposed to be misfiring" (which I think we got) and that it "was a little shout-out to our writer Jane Espenson, 'cause she for some reason thinks the word 'marzipan' is really funny." After Fury chimes in "She's not wrong," Noxon is compelled to add "She's weird." Espenson may indeed be weird, but she's also a mad genius with the wordsmithing, and "marzipan" is almost as funny a word as it is delicious a treat.

Buffybot: "We want her to be exactly, she'll never be exactly, I know, the only really real Buffy is real Buffy and she's gone who?"

In fact, I can't think of a higher compliment than that I'd have expected that line from Espenson (not that Fury and Noxon are slouches).

Anya: "I was being patient, but it took too long."

Dawn getting into bed with Buffybot just reaches in slaps your heart around.

Xander: "Excuse me? Who made you the boss of the group?"
Anya: "You did."
Tara: "You said Willow should be boss."
Anya: "And then you said 'Let's vote,' and it was unanimous…"
Tara: "And you made her this little plaque that said 'Boss of Us' and you put little sparkles on it…"

Oh the pithiness before the bittersweet darque magicks…

Tara: "Grr… Arrgh…"

VW: Flumenta™ — The first FDA-approved treatment for psychic influenza.

Blam said...

Buffy 6.3 "After Life"

Colleen beat me to the observation that Willow has apparently killed Elmo and worn him for sport. I guess offing Bambi is a gateway drug to murdering fictional creatures. One almost fears that she'll skin Snoopy and present his hide to Xander to wear when he next performs the Snoopy dance (insert "Lucy van Pelt" joke here; I'm too tired).

Dawn: "She's been through a lot, with the… death…"

So now Dawn becomes the big sis / mom, with the washing of the face and the buttoning of the clothes and the "Guys! Back off!"

Anya: "Jet lag from Hell has gotta be… jet lag from hell."

Anya: "I found one of those 24-hour places for coffee. Remember that bookstore? Well, they became one of those books-and-coffee places, and now they're just coffee. It's like evolution only without the 'getting better' part."

Wait a decade, Anya...

Angel 3.2 "That Vision Thing"

Gunn: "How come whatever we're searchin' for is always in the last place we look?"
Wesley: "I suppose it's one of the unwritten laws of being a dick. [Gunn looks at him.] Uh… A sleuth, a gumshoe, a Sherlock."
Gunn: "All I know is you use the word 'dick' again and we gonna have a problem. So what's the name of this place anyway?"
Wesley: "Van Ho Dong."

Angel 3.3 "That Old Gang of Mine"

I liked Merl.

VW: Equistro — The great centaur illusionist of the early 20th century.

Blam said...

Welcome back, Nurse Brian!

Marebabe: And just in case you Buffy fans in other parts of the world have never heard of it, here in the U.S. we have a product called Manwich sauce.

Like the TV done taught me as a kid, "A sandwich is a sandwich but a Manwich is a meal."

Colleen: Angel was physically in a hell dimension. Sucked right on in. Buffy died. Why would Willow assume that she was in hell?

Yeah, I kinda don't get that equivalence. I'm actually a little fuzzy now on whether Buffy said back then that she'd killed Angel, but I thought they were at least eventually all up to speed on him having been trapped there bodily as well as on the resouling having worked before Buffy stabbed him as the portal opened. Given that Buffy was actually killed by falling through the ring o' mystical energy in "The Gift" I could see the gang thinking — and viewers at the time likely expecting, at worst — that Buffy had been transported to a similar place had she not come through the ring and ended up lying there as a bleeding corpse, but that's exactly what happened. I kind-of still write it off along those lines, like Efthymia does, but it doesn't really gibe.

Colleen: Giles - machines don't have chi

What?!? It's right there between the ma and the nes!

VW: anught — Hmm... Nothing dyslexic.

Blam said...

Marebabe — Unannounced Dream Sequence is my new band name.

Marebabe said...

@Blam: You were sleepy last night. Not no more! I worked my brain just now to figure out the riddle of “machines don’t have chi.” It was worth it. Your definition of ‘anught’ was also worth it.

Here’s how I see our relationship. I leave stuff lying around, and you pick it up. (See “Unannounced Dream Sequence”.) May it ever be so. :)

Christina B said...

See, this is where I start to love Spike. I mean, sure, I loved him before...But this is where I start to LOOOOOOOVE him. ;)

Buffy first--
Bargaining 1&2:

Powerful, powerful Willow. I love the confidence she now has.

The tees confused me! 11, 13, 7...I had no idea if that was coincidence or if it meant something. Thanks for clearing that up!

I loved Tara's little 'Grr, argh' monster!

After Life:
Spike. Oh, dear Spike. The look of love and relief and shock on his face when he sees Buffy for the first time. Marsters can ACT!
'147 days'. *sigh*
'Every night, I save you.' *SIGH!*


I love The Phantom Dennis. He's such a sweetie.
I found this a kind of a weak series premiere...UNTIL THE END!

That Vision Thing:
It's so amazing to see how far Cordy has come since her cheerleader days in season 1 of Buffy.

At this point, I'm really hoping Fred is going to grow on me. She's mostly just weird and kind of annoying so far.

Wes is looking HAWT with his new shaggy hair! Wow!

Skip was hilarious! That was a great scene!

That Old Gang of Mine:

I like the Gunn stories, but I wish they didn't all have to revolve around his gang.

This was the first episode where I can actually say I found Wesley attractive! Not just psychically! I loved the way he was protecting Fred, his attitude, the way he stepped up.

And Fred...Finally! GO FRED!

Christina B said...

Er, that should say "physically" not "psychically". LOL

(vw: Micipti--How my 3 year old says Mississippi)

Dusk said...

@Christina: I found Fred annoying at the start too, but you have to remember she's mildly insane after 5 years of Pylea (still don't buy she just accepts Lorne so quick) and she's supposed to be hyper and odd.

Also without spoilers many people find Amy Acker has one of the highest, if not best acting range of either cast. (Me, as well as a number on her IMDB page, spoilers abound be warned).

Lisa(until further notice) said...

I adore Spike so much. How can anyone not??? That look on his face when he knows it's really Buffy, and not the BuffyBot, is beautiful. It's similar to the look he gave Buffy when she kissed him after getting beaten to a pulp by Glory. His face is incredible, and James Marsters is a master.

I have to say I will miss the BuffyBot. Her demise was shocking, sad, and so utterly final. Even though I had seen it before, I found myself looking through my hand that was attempting to cover my eyes during her "death" scene.

I also find myself becoming very annoyed with Willow and her powers at this juncture. She is certainly feeling very full of herself. Willing to do almost anything, at any time, no matter what the consequence. Her need to hear thanks from Buffy was above and beyond what any of the others needed. I think she was feeling as much guilt and fear as the rest of them, but much less willing to admit it. Alyson Hannigan is so fabulous at playing her just right for where she's at right now.

My husband's on season 2 and my son is on season 4, so I'm always seeing something from the past and find myself truly amazed at the growth of these characters and the depth of the storyline. Angel is by far the most changed physically from the beginning. He was a slim thing back in the day.

And @Christina B., you are so right. Weseley is becoming extremely HAWT. You just keep watching. Glad you're fully on board now :)

Suzanne said...

The first time I saw Bargaining, Part 1 and 2, I was very confused about why the gang would think that Buffy had gone to hell, too. It actually upset me a bit since I thought to myself, why would they ever assume this given her selfless acts.

However, this time, it finally dawned on me that their assumption must have been related to the hell dimension that opened up as a result of Glory and Dawn as the key as Efthymia discussed. I agree that there are problems with the fact that Buffy's body was not "sucked in" as Angel's was, but I do buy this as a strong explanation for the gang's assumption. I also think that they were probably rationalizing their decision in some subconscious manner by ignoring the problems with logic in their assumption since they wanted her back so badly.

I find the situation that the Scoobies are left in with Buffy gone to be horrifying. None of them is a match for the evil they face, even Spike. They are really alone and out of their element without Buffy. They miss her in an unbearable way because of their deep love for her, but also because of the way they really need her protection. I imagine the subconscious would work in very strong ways to help them justify their decision to bring her back.

When Buffy describes her version of Heaven to Spike, she mentions that she "knew" that those she loved were alright and would go on with their lives. I am not at all sure that what she "knew" was actually real. Somehow she seemed to be getting a false sense of comfort in "Heaven" because the Scoobies and Dawn did not seem fine to me at all. As many of you mentioned, the scene where Dawn curls up in bed with the Buffy-Bot is touching evidence of how lost she feels without Buffy.

Although I sympathize with Buffy a lot in the way she feels after the horrifying manner in which she is brought back and in the way she was ripped from her version of Heaven, I can't help but feel that in some ways she is selfishly forgetting the way her friends had been left behind to take on her job without her. It is important to remember here that as long as Faith stayed in prison, no help from another slayer would be coming their way any time soon. How long would it have been before the Scoobies would have been living in their own version of the alternate world we saw brought on in the earlier Season 3 (?) episode with Vamp Willow and Vamp Xander.

Spike - oh Spike! I adore Spike, as I have said on many occasions. However, the scene where he sees Buffy walk down the stairs alive and realizes what he is seeing is beyond amazing. Marsters' acting is unbelievably good here. As much as I like Angel (and D.B.), I can't even imagine a scene with Angel that would have compared to this one with Spike in terms of emotional power. It doesn't stop there, either. Later scenes where Buffy confides in Spike, seeks him out, or when he sits with her again on the back porch are also very powerful. And boy did it get to me to see him crying behind the tree when Xander approached him in such a cruel manner. I love Xander most of the time, but sometimes he acts like a bully and this was one of those times. I could have punched him for hurting Spike in this way.

As for Willow, I have mixed feelings. When I first saw these episodes, I was completely in her corner because I really felt her pain over the loss of Buffy. However, now, I am feeling a little annoyed with how arrogant she appears to be in certain scenes where all she seems to want is congratulations. This is a different Willow than the one I fell in love with in earlier seasons.

This season is amazing even though it is dark. It is very different from the Buffy that comes before it, but I really like it and look forward to more.

Dusk said...

With me, I always assume the Scoobies though Buffy's soul was sucked through Glory's portal. That's why they thought she was in a bad place.

Buffy says she "killed" Angel and the others take this to mean dusted and his soul was tormented, applying the same logic to Buffy, her body is empty but her soul is suffering.

The difference is Angel's actual body was sent throught the portal, and while Buffy feels like she killed him, all she actually did was stab him through the opening.

TAt said...

James Marsters is absolutely brilliant in the scene where he sees the real life Buffy again for the first time. The emotional range in those few sections is amazing. I love how it starts with typical comic Spike ranting and ends on such a loving painful emotion.

Spike often turns from threatening to comic on a dime, but going from anger and frustration, to dismissal, to surprise and then happiness and pain... wow. It's my favorite non-comic Spike moment in the entire series.

db said...

Does anyone know where we can see/find the "previously on" segment prior to Bargaining I & II?

I recall it covering key moments throughout the 5 seasons which set up characters and plot points in surprisingly slow and moderated manner. I guess it was providing all the new UPN'ers the entire necessary backstory. I would really love to have a youtube version of that one. Any ideas?

Missy said...

And here we are(finally!) my fav seasons of both shows thats right
S6(BtVS) & S3(AtS) are my absolute favs.
Their both sooo incredibly dark in tone and just stunning revelations in story telling.

Bargaining P1&2

Are awesome...She had to come back,She had too...We were all lost without Buffy,Willow more than most...Willow is dependent on Buffy for almost everything.
Sweet Spike...HOT James...everywhere you look he's making some cute lovey dovey face of saying something soo painfully truthful that it's hard NOT to just LOVE him.
(And he's equally as honest and beautiful in real life & quite a cheeky fella too)


Always Creepy...even after numerous rewatches,Anya with the knife and the slicing..I still watch that scene through my fingers Lol.



James&Elizabeth..James her eyes ARE Green.Okay Green..noone NEEDS 100yrs to figure that out.

Cordy(or more specifically Charisma) breaking down when she's giving Angel the big speech about his importances and that he did everything he could have to save Buffy(and not knowing what had happened,was not helping at all)

DARLA'S BAAAAACK...Why,How,What,When???Yea we were all thinkng the same thing.Lol And then it dawned on me S E X was had in 'Reprise' and it made less sense because... well Vampires can't have Babies...RIGHT!?!

That Vision Thing

Don't you just feel horrible for Cordy...I know I do...and Angel is flipping out..because he might just maybe kinda be losing Cor ,which makes you wonder-What are his feelings toward her?

I do LOVE Angel putting Lilah in her place.

That Old Gang Of Mine

Wow Gio,Demonphobe much...A**face deserved to be eaten..Lorne runs a fine establishment.

Of Course Fred would choose to sing 'CRAZY'.She clearly hadn't met Irony befor her Pylean vaca.
(I LOOOOVE her sooo much that talking with Amy Acker back in june was a highlight in my life so far)

Merl's back ...which means tons of LOL-ing.And then saddness at his demise.

My fav S3 AtS ep is next week ...bring on Fredless.
And of course S6 BtVS finds it's Humor...Dark humor that is.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

@db, Nikki posted it right here on her blog...check it out.

db said...

No, actually I'm looking for the 'previously on' which opens season 6, not season 5. I saw it once on a downloaded version -- it's not on the region 1 DVDs. It's a slower-paced extensive overview of all 5 seasons, with all the key plot points necessary to make sense of Bargaining I & II and the remainder of season 6. I recall that it was very comprehensive (some short scenes with Angel are included as well as Buffy being called as the slayer, Spike being chipped, Willow & Tara's relationship, even a brief recap of Anya's backstory).

Lisa(until further notice) said...

@db, it's available on the Netflix streaming version of BtVS. I just checked, and it appears right before Bargaining Part 1. Hope you are able to catch it there.

Mike_D said...

"Great Googly Moogly" is actually from a Snickers commercial from around the same time....


Colleen/redeem147 said...

nderstand why she thought that Buffy was in hell. The only other resurrection after a mystical death she knows of is that of Angel, who definitely was in hell


Sorry, pet peeve.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Okay, off too spend the weekend with James Marsters. :) I have such a hard life.

If anyone is interested, Christian Kane is doing a concert in Buffalo in November. If anyone is interested I can post more details when I get back.

Blam said...

Marebabe: Here’s how I see our relationship. I leave stuff lying around, and you pick it up.

Don't you have a husband?

Lisa(UFN): Alyson Hannigan is so fabulous at playing her just right for where she's at right now.

I agree.

Suzanne: I find the situation that the Scoobies are left in with Buffy gone to be horrifying. ...

You make a good point with that whole paragraph. The gang does need Buffy. She didn't just leave an emotional void — she fell in the line of duty and there's no-one around as capable to pick up the slack, although Willow's doing a danged good job trying (which has its own consequences). Even as Buffy fulfilled her responsibilities by averting disaster, she shirked them as well by not letting Dawn be killed before the portal opened, because now Sunnydale is left without its Slayer.

What's so mindfrakkingly weird is that, in a way, Buffy deserved her eternal peace not just because it's the reward that all good souls receive at the end of a difficult life (in the Slayerverse cosmology, at least, it seems; I'm not trying to force a belief system onto anybody) but because she had died once, however briefly, at the hands of the Master, and the Slayer gig wasn't really hers anymore except by choice. Had she not been resuscitated back in "Prophecy Girl" she wouldn't even be around right now to protect the Key or battle Glory, and in a way her death in "The Gift" is just destiny delayed. Yet because she's still a Slayer and she's now a sister, she makes the only decision that she can make, which is to protect Dawn and close the portal herself, even though it forestalls interdimensional chaos at the expense of leaving the Hellmouth unprotected by her. Likewise, Willow really makes the only decision that she can make by bringing Buffy back; Sunnydale does need its Slayer as much as Buffy had to die.

Blam said...

Suzanne: as long as Faith stayed in prison, no help from another slayer would be coming their way any time soon.

I always want the gang to mention this explicitly, not just because it's such a pertinent plot point — and would be a good reminder to Buffy / Angel viewers of an important piece of the larger tapestry — but because it's so easy to hear Spike chime in as the voice of cold rationality.

"It's bloody obvious then, innit," he'd say in his sing-song duh voice. "Nobody's more sorry that Buffy's gone than yours truly, whether you lot believe it or not, but her death took care of one problem while leaving another. So let's find Little Miss Jailbird and do what needs to be done."

"Much as I'm gonna regret asking," Xander says, "And that would be?"

"You give some to get some in this world, Snarky Boy. If Faith ain't doin' her job… we have to kill ourselves another Slayer."

Blam said...

Suzanne: As for Willow, I have mixed feelings. When I first saw these episodes, I was completely in her corner because I really felt her pain over the loss of Buffy. However, now, I am feeling a little annoyed with how arrogant she appears to be in certain scenes where all she seems to want is congratulations.

While there's clearly a certain amount of "power corrupts" going on here, I really think that — as you suggested and I concurred above — Willow feels that bringing Buffy back was her responsibility. Even if she didn't believe that Buffy's soul was stuck in some hell dimension, she was in a rare if not unique position to come up with a solution to Buffy's damn-Sunnydale-by-saving-the-world sacrifice by operating outside the box in bringing her back.

Juanita's Journal said...

"After Life" - One of the best "BUFFY" episodes ever, at least for me. I think Buffy should have told the other Scoobies about what they really did to her. But her fear of losing her friends led her to suppress her feelings, which led her to gradually distance herself from them.

"That Old Gang of Mine" - Why in the world did Wes think he had the right to fire Charles? Both he and the writer of this episode seemed to have forgotten that Wes, Charles and Cordelia were partners of the new Angel Investigation. How racist.