6.19 Seeing Red
Read along in Bite Me!, pp. 301-306.
If you’re watching Angel, this week’s episodes are:
3.18 Double or Nothing
3.19 The Price
Read along in Once Bitten, pp. 229-237.
This is the week I’ve been looking forward to, for the audience reaction, and dreading… for the audience reaction. I’ve got two brilliant essays below that are covering off the episodes, and there is SO much I want to say about them, but I don’t want to talk over the upcoming contributors, so I’ll focus on what I’ve been doing all along: offering the perspective of what it was like seeing these episodes live and discussing them on the fan forums. And just like that pesky Lost finale, no episode of Buffy was more divisive among the fandom than “Seeing Red.”
I’ll never forget jumping online after the episode aired, and people were arguing about whether or not what Spike did was attempted rape. People were making excuses for him – “she was asking for it” “he didn’t frickin’ RAPE her, for god’s sakes! Really, guys, CALM DOWN” “she has been SO MEAN to him all season and she’s a tease” – while others were condemning Spike and saying they either always hated him, or they didn’t before but now they did. Part of it was a stimulating discussion, while the other part was disturbing indeed. These arguments went on for days, weeks, months… I’m sure they’re still continuing. And while the bathroom scene is a pivotal one for the series, I just wanted to shout, “DID NO ONE NOTICE THAT TARA WAS SHOT AT THE END?!” My GOD. That final scene was one of the most heartbreaking moments in all of Buffydom.
Of course, as I’ve often told the story over the years, it was also the subject of the worst spoilage I’ve ever had. A friend of mine was over about a week before the episode aired, and she was a serious spoilerphile and I hated them. She said, “Did you hear what they have in store for the finale?” “NO I DID NOT AND I DO NOT WANT TO” was pretty much my instantaneous response, followed by me sticking my fingers in my ears and singing the Flintstones theme song. (It’s my fallback security mechanism.) The song ended, and she smiled and said, “Okay, okay! No spoilers.” Pause. Pause. Pause. “But you did hear that Tara is going to be shot and killed and as a result ____________ will happen?!”
And yes, this person is still very much my friend, but that was a whopper of a moment. I’ve never had a spoiler like that happen before or since, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to have watched that scene NOT knowing what was going to happen. But I was dreading it all episode long.
And when the smoke cleared (sort of) on the “was it or wasn’t it rape?!” argument, people began arguing over the Tara death.
Now, I don’t want to offend anyone with what I have to say. We’ve kept this a happy place until now, and I try to keep my comments fair and balanced. But in the context of this episode, I have to mention a rather vocal group that rose up called the “Tara Kittens.” I mentioned them offhand in a comment earlier this year and said unfortunately I’d get to them later. These were the people who said that the death of Tara was a homophobic move on the part of the writers, perpetuating the stereotype that the only good lesbian was a dead one. There’s something to be said for Tara’s death falling into a clichéd stereotype, and a certain frustration as the viewer thinking, “Really? You had to kill HER off over everyone else?!” I’ve heard some brilliantly argued discussions on the topic. But the Kittens became vicious, rampaging onto message boards and name-calling and turning the discussions into hatred-filled forums, killing a lot of the message boards in the process (a few of them were able to reconvene for season 7).
I, too, came under attack by them. In fall 2002, when Buffy was entering its final season, an update of my 1998 book, Bite Me!, was released. The book had originally been released with this odd cover of SMG in a black feather boa and it covered the first two seasons of the episode. We decided to rerelease an updated version of it, complete to the end of season 6, in 2002. (The one that’s now available, “The Chosen Edition,” was released in 2007 with season 7 added into it; until then, season 7 had been available in the back of my Angel guide.) One day I was working at home and I suddenly got a vicious message in my inbox. A Tara Kitten had picked up a copy of my book, and jumped straight to my analysis of “Seeing Red.” In it I bemoaned the death of Tara, talked about how loving and wonderful she was, and analyzed the rest of the episode. What I did not do was vilify Joss Whedon and the other writers. I did not call them a bunch of homophobic heterosexist assholes who created a lesbian character simply to kill her off. And there, apparently, is where I went horribly wrong.
This person went onto the Tara Kitten forums and gave out my personal email address, telling people to attack me en masse and explain that because I am a homophobe myself who is in Joss Whedon’s back pocket (huh?) they needed to write me letters to tell me they most definitely WOULD NOT be buying my book.
So, back to me working at home that afternoon, when I got this email. I opened it, my eyes widened at the cruel invectives being thrown at me, and then two more pieces of mail came in, worse than the first. Then another… and another… and another. I was being attacked, and what shocked me was that these fans were not actually checking out what I’d written; they were going by the misguided statements of someone who told them write me – someone who, by the way, actually told them that in my book I applauded the decision to kill off Tara as something that was much-needed (I implore you to check out that page of my book to see I most certainly did NOT write that). I should have just deleted the messages, but one person seemed more reasonable than the others, and I began a conversation with him (yes, him… the Tara kittens were a diverse group of people that traversed all demographics). We began talking about why they were so upset about what had happened at the end of “Seeing Red.” Of course I was upset – who wouldn’t be? – but how could they charge the writers with homophobia when it was these very same writers who made us love Tara as much as we did? Who had created these two incredible characters who happened to be lesbians (I loved that that was just one part of who they were and not the focal point of who they were) and who made us love them? Who had taken the single biggest fan favourite of the series – Willow – and turned her into a gay character, which was not the plan from the beginning? Why not just grab a side character who didn’t matter as much? Because to Joss and the writers, it was important that they create this relationship from someone we could all identify with, someone we all loved.
And [spoilers for S6 finale: highlight to see what’s ahead]: they showed that Willow loved more intensely than anyone else on the show, that she was so closely tied to Tara that she could almost lose her mind as a result. She would fall so deeply into the abyss without her most precious love, something that not even Buffy, Anya, Spike, or Xander did. The Tara kittens said that was suggesting that lesbians are unstable and mentally ill, that lesbian love is something that is maniacal. I didn’t see that at all; I saw it as a suggestion that this relationship is something that ran so deep and was so attached to the cosmos around them that it could literally crack the world apart if it was torn asunder.
What bothers me about the Tara kitten argument (and they’re free to believe what they want, I don’t want to come off as undermining them) is that they’re saying what the writers did was present that if you’re a lesbian, you’re gonna die. “Tara was the LESBIAN, and she DIED,” they said to me over and over. Funny… I saw Tara as so much more than “The Lesbian.” What people loved about this character and the relationship between her and Willow is that it was normalized: Buffy didn’t introduce the two of them to friends and say, “This is Willow and, um… her, uh… FRIEND… uh… Tara,” before whisper-screaming, “They’re lesbians!!” They sat at the Scooby table with the books the same way Anya and Xander did. They helped raise Dawn like two parents, and Dawn never talked about how awesome it was that her big sister had lesbian friends. Their love just was. LGBT groups praised the show for that very same thing – that their love wasn’t seen as something that was seedy or weird, it was as normal as anything else. They hung out at the Bronze, not at gay bars. Why, in her death, is Tara reduced to just one aspect of her person?
They weren’t just the show’s lesbians. They were Tara and Willow, and all of the Tara-ness and Willow-ness that accompanied that.
Even with the spoiler, I cried and cried about Tara. When I look back on the series and remember Tara and Willow, I remember their love story, I remember their relationship, and I remember Tara’s death. I remember what happened next, and the legacy that is left behind by it all. But I don’t look at her as that “big lesbo” (to quote Cordelia) that was introduced to the series just to be killed off by Warren. That’s not the memory that she left with me or most viewers, I would argue. I remember Tara and Willow as having one of the most beautiful relationships I’ve ever seen on television. Not one of the best gay relationships I’ve ever seen, but the best relationship. And I think what happened at the end of “Seeing Red” shouldn’t wash away everything these characters were before it happened.
I really hope I didn’t offend anyone, and our second contributor will point to an excellent article that argues a different angle of what I just said and does actually take issue with the death, but does so in a very well-thought-out way (if only the discussions post-“Seeing Red” had been along the lines of what she said and not what actually occurred, our chats could have actually gone somewhere).
Now, one last thing before I move on. At the end of season 7, I had the privilege of interviewing David Fury, one of the head writers on the show (who later ended up being a head writer on Lost, penning the stunning “Walkabout” episode). You might remember him as the “They got the mustard out!” guy. He has always been known for his outspokenness, and while I admire him for it, I can also see why a lot of fans were pissed off by comments he made. When he spoke to me over the phone, his comments were completely unbridled. He was funny, opinionated, and when I’d challenge him with various fan responses to things that had happened on Buffy and Angel, he always had a response ready (despite being the guy who created Spike and was the one brought in to write all of Spike’s dialogue for each episode, he still believed people were CRAZY to think Spike and Buffy should have ended up together… I know a lot of Spuffies who would strongly disagree).
I asked him about the death of Tara, and he didn’t tread carefully around the topic at all, but instead talked about why he didn’t regret their decision for an instant:
I think that some of us… see, it’s actually kind of cool to be the one to kill off a character because there’s a real feeling of power, this godlike omnipotence when you can end the life of a character that you’ve lived with for a couple of years who you’ve written and filled in the voice for and know the actors or actresses, and then to be able to end their life and do it in a shocking or moving way, I don’t think anybody resists it, I think we’re often naïve in terms of how it’ll be responded to; you know Joss had decided to kill Tara because he thought it was a story that was right for the story. We knew she was going to die really early on in that season if not before, because we knew that [spoiler] Willow was going to become evil and we knew that was how it would happen would be the death of Tara and yet shortly before we were breaking the story Joss said, “You know, should we really kill her? I don’t know if we should kill her” and began to second-guess himself. And I said, “No! Kill her! We’re all prepared to kill her and so let’s kill her” and that resulted in the backlash and we were all like, “Whoops, sorry.” I mean, we don’t regret having done it; it’s the way things unfold. We don’t sit there going, who does everybody like, who do they not like… if you wanted us to cater to the community at large the show would never have been interesting, it never would have gotten the response it did. The thing is, it served the story well, it was tragic from a story point of view, it was sort of necessary for the time.
I just realized I’ve got tons of this stuff in my old Buffy files. I should have been quoting from it sooner! D’oh. I promise to do more of it in season 7.
But now let’s move on to our other contributors. First up we’re going to discuss “Normal Again,” which is that game-changing episode that still makes some Buffy fans think, “Wait… what if that was actually the only REAL episode of the entire series?!” One of my friends was SO upset by it when it first aired he almost stopped watching, because he was gutted to think that could actually have been real. I, on the other hand, thought that episode was glorious.
So, to discuss it with you is Alyson Buckman, and this is her first time with us for the Rewatch! (A fact that surprised me, and after reading her excellent essay, I wish I could have lured her here sooner!) Alyson is a professor of Humanities at California State University, Sacramento, where she teaches courses in film and American Studies. She is the winner of the Mr. Pointy Award for best published essay of 2010 and has published on Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog as well as The Gilmore Girls, Alice Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy, and Octavia Butler. Her most recent essay was in Sexual Rhetoric in the Works of Joss Whedon.
“Who am I kidding? Dates are things normal girls have, girls who have time to think about nail polish and facials. You know what I think about? Ambush tactics. Beheading. Not exactly the stuff dreams are made of.” “Halloween,” 2.6
I remember my jaw dropping during “Normal Again.” It was and still is a painful episode to watch. Though, in some hands, the “it was all a dream” maneuver feels cheap (I’m thinking of you, Dallas!) and a betrayal of viewer attachment to the show, here the questioning of the Buffy narrative serves the plot as part of the larger theme of Buffy’s insecurity about her own identity and purpose. By season 6, Buffy had more than earned viewer loyalty and attachment, and, as usual, Joss Whedon sticks a knife into the viewer. Though not the director or writer of this episode, Whedon was, by this time, working on another show that featured a young woman with precarious sanity who eventually would wind up becoming River the Reaver Slayer. Here, the trajectory is reversed: Buffy becomes a hero and dies to save the world – twice! – and then has her sanity questioned. Such questioning, though, is doubly painful for an audience anxious to see a sane, competent, powerful woman in a media landscape that has far too few of these.
Buffy’s been feeling alienated from her reality for a while by the time of “Normal Again,” especially so since she returned from the dead. Buffy’s inability to be just a normal girl has been part of the series from the beginning, however. In season 1, we start with Buffy trying to deny her calling as the chosen one. She rejects Giles’ offer of a book entitled Vampyr and runs away, only to return once a student is killed. The desire to be a “normal girl” is expressed repeatedly and to no avail. One might even see her choice of Riley Finn as a boyfriend as another expression of her desire to be “normal”: other than being one of Maggie Walsh’s super soldier experiment subjects, Riley is about as cornfed Middle American farmboy as one can get.
After her mother’s death, though, Buffy is forced to deal with the “normal” world more and more. She learns how hard it was for her mother to keep the house together in the midst of each monster of the week (or season) and to pay the bills. With her mother gone, it’s up to Buffy to take care of Dawn, the house, and the bills. Even dying – something every “normal” person must do – doesn’t get Buffy a normal (non)existence, and she’s forced to return. In “Once More With Feeling,” she trots out the clichés of the quotidian world, clichés that no longer apply to her: “every day’s a gift; whistle while you work so hard all day to be like other girls, to fit in in this glittering world” though she concludes that “when you vowed you leave the crowd.” Her friends, she complains, don’t understand this. Buffy is left cold after her return, and she desperately needs “something to sing about.” Sleeping with Spike, once her nemesis, is the only way she can feel alive.
By the time we hit episode 17 of season 6, “Normal Again,” poor Buffy has been through the ringer, not only dealing with the trials and tribulations of being the Slayer but also more and more with the pain of real adult living. Although the show always has been metaphorically about fighting the real demons of contemporary life, everyday life is proving tremendously difficult for Buffy at this point: Buffy’s mother is dead, Giles has left to push Buffy towards independence (I know Anthony Stewart Head wanted more time with his family, but it just feels cruel for Giles to abandon Buffy at this point), Willow has hit rock bottom with addiction, Tara has left Willow and moved out, and Xander has left Anya at the altar. Additionally, Buffy’s sister, Dawn, is a kleptomaniac who recently got them all sealed in the house with a demon who wants to kill them. Meanwhile, the Trio keeps getting under Buffy’s skin with their attempts to get the Slayer out of their way.
After a series of comical attempts to get a job, Buffy finally lands one at the Double Meat Palace: one which looks suspiciously like a stint in zombieland. Alas, it is very much a part of the “normal” world. Though a monster does gobble down the occasional employee, the chain itself resists Buffy’s attempt to make it supernatural. Soylent green – or, in this case, the doublemeat patty – is not people but vegetable product with meat flavoring. It is, as Spike states, “a normal job for a normal girl,” but Buffy isn’t normal … yet.
Fighting with a demon called by Andrew, she is injected with a poison that makes her hallucinate. The director, Rick Rosenthal, jump cuts from Buffy being injected with a supernatural stinger to her being injected with a needle in a psychiatric ward: a jarring surprise for both Buffy and for the audience. After the credits, Buffy awakens in Sunnydale. For the rest of the episode, Buffy – and the audience – will cut between these two realities: Sunnydale reality and hospital reality. Often using subjective camera during these jumps, Rosenthal puts the audience into Buffy’s head to experience the conflict that Buffy is feeling. However, we wind up on the opposite side of the conflict from Buffy.
For Buffy, the hospital reality offers some comforting elements unavailable in her reality. Although Willow and Xander are figments of her imagination there, so are the losses she’s felt and the troubles she’s experiencing. Her mother and father are both present and still married in the hospital reality. She is their only child, and they miss her and want her back home. In the hospital reality, Buffy doesn’t have to be strong and save the world. All she has to do is turn her back on Sunnydale – and on the audience. It’s a tempting offer (and it’s so wonderful to see Joyce again!).
The bitter pill of “Normal Again” is its assertion that Buffy has been institutionalized for six years and is not really the “hot chick with superpowers” that we’ve been cheering for all that time (well, now it’s more like fourteen years, but…). By the way, we’re all insane for having believed in her delusion with her. We must ask, “Which reality is an escapist fantasy? The one we escaped into each Tuesday night while Buffy fought her demons or the one in which Buffy is institutionalized and offered a healthy, whole family again?” The doctor asks Buffy, regarding her delusions, “They aren’t as comforting as they once were, are they?” and this is a question for the audience as well. Watching Buffy has gotten harder, too. The doctor tells her: “You used to create these grand villains to battle against, and now what is it? Just ordinary students you went to high school with. No gods or monsters – just three pathetic little men who like to play with toys.” While some have argued that the Trio is Marti Noxon’s answer to nasty fans who questioned her abilities as show runner and producer, this statement by the doctor hits home for the audience as well as for Buffy. Like Buffy, we ask: “What’s more real: a sick girl in an institution or some kind of supergirl, chosen to fight demons and save the world? That’s ridiculous.” Is it a sign of our insanity that we want to believe in the demons and not in the institution, even though the latter is far more plausible?
Buffy comes close to choosing normality over heroism, dragging Willow, Xander, and then Dawn down into the basement in a sequence that just as well might have come from a horror movie with its tight frames and ominous music. She’s about to destroy our world, and, instead of being the hero of it, she’s the villain. Tara comes in and helps the crew fight against the demon which Buffy has released on them in the basement, but Buffy knocks her down the stairs. Crouching under the stairs, Buffy is painfully crossing between institutional reality and Sunnydale reality, and a surprising source helps her to choose: Joyce. Acting every bit the loving mother, Joyce tells Buffy to believe in herself:
“Buffy, Buffy, fight it. You're too good to give in. You can beat this thing. Be strong, baby, okay? I know you're afraid, I know the world feels like a hard place sometimes, but you've got people who love you. Your dad and I -- we have all the faith in the world in you. We'll always be with you. You've got a world of strength in your heart, I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself.”
Rather than drawing Buffy out of Sunnydale and into institutional reality, this speech reaffirms Buffy’s heroism and her faith in herself and her own mind. She chooses Sunnydale and returns to help her friends battle the demon. While, according to commentary, Whedon emphasized to Rodriguez and writer Diego Gutierrez that he didn’t want any bias in narrative or cinematography to tip the balance toward one reality or the other, the cinematography here is similar to that near the end of “Anne,” when Buffy resumes her own identity and calling: the camera tracks in on Buffy at a slightly low angle for the hero shot, and she kicks some demon ass.
Pulling the rug out from under the audience yet again, though, Gutierrez and Rosenthal return to the institution after Buffy saves the day. As the episode comes to a close, Buffy is shown in the corner of the room in the hospital where she crouched during her mother’s speech. The doctor shines a light in Buffy’s eyes and states, “I'm sorry, there's no reaction at all. I'm afraid we've lost her.” By ending there, the episode leaves us uncertain, maintaining the dissonance between institutional reality and Sunnydale reality.
Dallas created an uproar when it brought Bobby Ewing out of the shower to assert that the whole story had been an odd dream. The audience felt that it had been cheated and their narrative investment cheapened. With “Nightmares,” “Hush,” “Restless,” “The Body,” and “Once More With Feeling,” Whedon had already played with the constructedness of Sunnydale and slayer identity and denied the audience a seamless temporary ‘reality.’ Still, audience investment is important to this episode of Buffy as well, and it’s painful to watch and ponder. Had this been the final episode of the series, it may well have angered many fans (more than some already were). Instead, however, the episode gives voice to Buffy’s pain and uncertainty and reverberates for the rest of the season. Though this episode makes it more difficult, we still can choose to believe in Buffy (and grrl power) – just as Buffy does – and reject the assertion that our pleasure is merely delusional escapism.
Thank you, Alyson! Next up is the wonderful Cynthea Masson, who has been with us throughout the rewatch and has written some entries that have really garnered an enthusiastic response among the readers. Just to jog some memories, Cynthea Cynthea is a professor from British Columbia who I first met at Slayage, and one of her many papers, entitled, “‘It’s a Thing We Do’: Crying with Buffy and Angel” is featured in the collection, On the Verge of Tears: Why the Movies, Television, Music, and Literature Make Us Cry. She is also the author of the novel, The Elijah Tree.
Tara is dead. Willow is angry. So let me start with a recommendation for supplementary reading that pertains, in particular, to Willow and Tara: Alissa Wilts’s article “Evil, Skanky, and Kinda Gay: Lesbian Images and Issues,” which offers both fan and scholar a detailed discussion of the “Dead-Evil Lesbian Cliché” in Buffy (You will find Wilts’s essay in Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television, edited by Lynne Y. Edwards, Elizabeth L. Rambo, and James B. South (McFarland, 2009). Though I completely agree with the argument Wilts makes in her thorough and articulate article, my agreement is rational. Yet when I first experienced Tara’s death, my response was not driven by reason or theories of lesbian representation but by raw emotion: No! Tara cannot die! No! In fact, when first watching the series on DVD in 2004 (having never watched it on television during its original run), and knowing in advance (thanks to spoilers I had come across) that Tara dies in Season Six, I had planned to stop watching Buffy at the end of Season Five. After all, I had begun watching the show because of Willow and Tara, so how could I watch it without them? Of course, the plan to stop watching promptly changed when Buffy herself died at the end of Season Five—I was at Costco the next day buying Season Six. Consequently, as I watched Season Six I was anticipating Tara’s death, but I did not expect it right then, not right after Tara and Willow had made up and made love and were standing in the bedroom exchanging small talk rather than fighting evil out in the world.
But Season Six allows little time for happiness for anyone (Scoobie or viewer), and these late Season Six episodes in particular (beginning with “Hell’s Bells” [6.16]) emphasize the breakdowns and breakups of and among various characters. Really, I should have seen Tara’s death coming as an inevitable consequence of the season’s plot progression: someone had to die, and a viable option would be Tara, a secondary character who mattered both to us and to the primary characters on the show. But Tara is vulnerable for yet another reason: at the moment of her death, she is part of a happy couple in the midst of a season where happiness is repeatedly quashed and relationships are inevitably slated for destruction by one means or another.
In “Normal Again” (6.17), Spike accuses Buffy of purposely shunning happiness when he reprimands her for refusing to tell her friends about their relationship: “You’re addicted to misery. That’s why you won’t tell your pals about us. You might actually have to be happy if you did.” In this moment we might agree with Spike’s analysis and even sympathize with him; after all, he has become a worthy ally who appears to love Buffy. Why does she treat him with such disrespect? But our sympathy is thrashed in “Seeing Red” (6.19) when Spike’s obsession for Buffy culminates in attempted rape, and we as viewers are left, even if only in the moment and perhaps subconsciously, with unsettling guilt for having sympathized with and admired a character who is, in essence (and now once again in action), evil. Our allegiance within this couple shifts back to Buffy who poignantly utters, “Ask me again why I could never love you.”
As heinous as Spike’s action is in “Seeing Red,” he does have an excuse: he’s a demon—“an evil soulless thing,” as he tells Anya (“Entropy” 6.18). Moreover, he is a demon constrained by a high-tech leash: “It’s the chip—steel and wires and silicon! It won’t let me be a monster. And I can’t be a man. I’m nothing” (“Seeing Red”). But Xander and Warren do not have such excuses for their behaviour: they are men, not demons. Most notably, however, they are both accused of being boys instead of men. At the end of “Entropy,” Anya rebukes Xander for being “just a scared, insecure little boy!” Similarly, in “Seeing Red,” Buffy chastises Warren: “You’re nothing but a sad little boy.” Arguably Season Six repeatedly focuses on the need to grow up (in relationships and otherwise), to make difficult decisions, and to deal responsibly with the consequences both of one’s own choices and those of others—something at which several of the characters in these two episodes fail tragically.
For example, neither Anya nor Warren make mature choices or deal effectively with consequences—instead, both seek vengeance. (Of course, Willow follows suit in the upcoming episodes.) Anya’s humorous attempt at vengeance is juxtaposed with Warren’s deadly triumph. As is typical in the Whedonverses, we are made to laugh before we are made to cry. In “Entropy,” when Xander (albeit indirectly) admits to Anya that he does not want (and never did want) to get married, she attempts to exact vengeance by wishing his “intestines were tied in knots.” “They are!” claims Xander. When Anya realizes he is speaking figuratively, she utters one of my favourite lines of the series: “Those are metaphor intestines. You’re not in any real pain.” Anya does not cause physical pain with her attempts at vengeance, but Warren certainly does when he shoots both Buffy and, inadvertently, Tara. The Vengeance Demon has failed, but one of the “boys” has succeeded. In Season Six, human vengeance is metaphorically demonic.
Of course Warren’s behaviour causes not only physical trauma but also emotional pain. In particular, like so many others in these relationship-centred episodes, Andrew is left abandoned and, arguably, heartbroken. When speaking of Warren to Jonathan, Andrew laments, “He left me. . . . How could he do this to me? He promised we’d be together, but he was just using me. He never really loved—” (“Seeing Red”). Given his audience, the implied “me” is replaced with “hanging out with us.” But the intent is clear—Andrew feels betrayed emotionally by someone he thought (or hoped) loved him. Anya expresses similar sentiments in her conversation with a stranger about men and relationships: “They say ‘I love you,’ and you think it’s true. . . . You believe they feel the same way about you because that’s the way love’s supposed to be, right?” (“Seeing Red”). Yes, that’s the way love is supposed to be. But love can instead play a number on your metaphor intestines. “Ain’t love grand,” Spike utters cynically (“Seeing Red”). Not here. Not now. Not when actions are vengeful and consequences are tragic. So on the rare occasion when a relationship does work, when (as Tara does at the end of “Entropy”) a person says to another “Can you just be kissing me now?” and the other person responds with a kiss, we need to be aware that such gestures of love are grand and beautiful and, above all, fleeting.
Thank you, Cynthea!
Next week: I finally get my husband to help out with something and he’ll join me to discuss the three-part season 6 ender. Now, if only I could get him to help me with the dishes and vacuuming…