Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Buffy Rewatch: Week 43

6.17 Normal Again
6.18 Entropy
6.19 Seeing Red

Read along in Bite Me!, pp. 301-306.

If you’re watching Angel, this week’s episodes are:

3.17 Forgiving
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.

Normal Again
Alyson Buckman

“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.

“Ain’t Love Grand”: “Entropy” and “Seeing Red”
Cynthea Masson

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…


Marebabe said...

At the beginning of “Normal Again”, I was momentarily intrigued by the playing of a didgeridoo to summon a demon. I wondered in passing if Australian aboriginal Buffy fans (are there any?) would’ve been offended by that, or if they would’ve thought it was cool. I only wondered about it for the briefest of moments, however, because, Holy Shnykees! what a freaky/baffling opener! Of course, my mainest main question quickly became “What is real?” (I was strongly reminded of the many times in LOST when we were left to wonder if Ben – or anyone – was lying or telling the truth. I think I would have drawn the Buffy/LOST parallel even if I had NOT just spent hours, between calls at work, re-reading some of Nikki’s LOST Rewatch posts and our comments.)

What a meaty AND juicy role for any actor to play, being locked up in a mental hospital. The confusion, the emotional distress, the despair. Sarah Michelle Gellar really made the most of this acting challenge, and I thought she was absolutely brilliant in this episode.

Buffy: “Once you fall for Willow, you stay fallen.”
Me: “Yup.”

WHY did Buffy pour out the antidote she was given?! I didn’t get that at all.

About the time Buffy was dragging Xander down the basement stairs, I was wondering how ON EARTH they were gonna wrap up this story in only 10 minutes.

I was *sure* that “normal” would end up being the world of Sunnydale. But the fact that I felt relieved at the end meant that I wasn’t really 100% sure. I found that A) interesting, and B) a sign of stellar writing. I thought this was a compelling and very excellent episode.

Marebabe said...

Most of the rest of my experience with Buffy and Angel this week can be summed up in a comment I made to my husband: “I don’t usually like my entertainment so dark and depressing.” Although, I liked how descriptive the title “Entropy” turned out to be. In the same way that you can’t take a pile of ash and turn it back into a tree, it’s impossible to restore a broken relationship to its original, unbroken condition. You can sometimes get close, but the patches will always show, at least a little bit.

The ending of “Seeing Red” wasn’t a total shock and surprise to me. It got spoiled ages ago, the same as Joyce’s death, Buffy’s death, etc. I just didn’t know the exact details of when and how the story would unfold. I had heard that Willow was gonna go around the evil bend in S6, and frankly, I’d been expecting it for the past several weeks. And when we got to it, it was indeed dark and depressing.

I’ll see your dark and depressing and raise you a DISTURBING! The end of “Forgiving” over on Angel was shocking on the same level as when Michael killed Ana Lucia and Libby, and then shot himself (on LOST). When Angel tried to kill Wesley, I almost gave up hoping for a happy, feel-good episode ever again on Angel. I felt surprisingly, significantly better in the last few seconds of “The Price”, with the appearance of teen-age Connor. Once again, there is hope.

Over a year ago, I stated for the record that I’m in the process of breaking up with network television. I remain loyal to the few shows I’ve started, but I’m not hopping on board with any new ones, despite rave reviews from critics and friends. This past weekend on Facebook, I saw many glowing, ecstatic recommendations for “Once Upon a Time”, but I was unmoved. I thought, OK, this might be a worthy show to check out some day on DVD (if it doesn’t get canceled prematurely). Then on Monday, I saw Ken Tucker’s Entertainment Weekly review for “Once Upon a Time”. Here’s an excerpt: ‘I think there are a lot of people in the TV industry who believe there’s a large audience for this kind of bleak spin on life and our imaginary lives, whereas I believe that there’s a large audience that’s sick of precisely those qualities in their escapist television. As is becoming increasingly clear, “edgy” and “gritty” and “dark” are becoming exhausted, played-out tropes.’ Exactly. That’s why, after watching “Forgiving”, I put in Woody Allen’s “Love and Death”, something light and funny to help wash away the gloom.

Marebabe said...

Most of the rest of my experience with Buffy and Angel this week can be summed up in a comment I made to my husband: “I don’t usually like my entertainment so dark and depressing.” Although, I liked how descriptive the title “Entropy” turned out to be. In the same way that you can’t take a pile of ash and turn it back into a tree, it’s impossible to restore a broken relationship to its original, unbroken condition. You can sometimes get close, but the patches will always show, at least a little bit.

The ending of “Seeing Red” wasn’t a total shock and surprise to me. It got spoiled ages ago, the same as Joyce’s death, Buffy’s death, etc. I just didn’t know the exact details of when and how the story would unfold. I had heard that Willow was gonna go around the evil bend in S6, and frankly, I’d been expecting it for the past several weeks. And when we got to it, it was indeed dark and depressing.

I’ll see your dark and depressing and raise you a DISTURBING! The end of “Forgiving” over on Angel was shocking on the same level as when Michael killed Ana Lucia and Libby, and then shot himself (on LOST). When Angel tried to kill Wesley, I almost gave up hoping for a happy, feel-good episode ever again on Angel. I felt surprisingly, significantly better in the last few seconds of “The Price”, with the appearance of teen-age Connor. Once again, there is hope.

Over a year ago, I stated for the record that I’m in the process of breaking up with network television. I remain loyal to the few shows I’ve started, but I’m not hopping on board with any new ones, despite rave reviews from critics and friends. This past weekend on Facebook, I saw many glowing, ecstatic recommendations for “Once Upon a Time”, but I was unmoved. I thought, OK, this might be a worthy show to check out some day on DVD (if it doesn’t get canceled prematurely). Then on Monday, I saw Ken Tucker’s Entertainment Weekly review for “Once Upon a Time”. Here’s an excerpt: ‘I think there are a lot of people in the TV industry who believe there’s a large audience for this kind of bleak spin on life and our imaginary lives, whereas I believe that there’s a large audience that’s sick of precisely those qualities in their escapist television. As is becoming increasingly clear, “edgy” and “gritty” and “dark” are becoming exhausted, played-out tropes.’ Exactly. That’s why, after watching “Forgiving”, I put in Woody Allen’s “Love and Death”, something light and funny to help wash away the gloom.

Marebabe said...

Sorry for the double post. Blogger was giving me a LOT of back-talk.

Dusk said...

I have more thoughts then this, but I'll either save them for the spoiler forum later (Angel refrences and other Buffy material), or wait until the ending of the season.

On a light-hearted note, the triple OMG is when I started to like Johnathan again after what the Trio did to Katrina. (To this day, I like him, hate Warren, Andrew neutral at best.)

Don't support Anya/Spike even though you could see where it's going, I almost thought Anya would stop there for a second.

I thought the last bit of Normal Again was simply before the second antidote was made on the first viewing, nice to see Joyce again.

I don't nastier believe the arugement, but the timing of Tara's death coupled with the first romantic scene could have lead me that way if it was orginal viewing.

The attempted rape scene was grusome but well acted and shot, it's as disturbing as it should be. I know James felt aweful after, and won't do that kind of scene again.

Forgving is probably the winner for most shocking ending onan Angel episode.

Something, I've never been clear on: How long was it between Connor was stolen and came back as a teenager?

Dusk said...

For the characters I mean. Sleep Tight and Forgiving are the same night, so what like a week or two?

Lisa(until further notice) said...

How did everyone feel about having Amber Benson FINALLY listed in the credits as a main character only to have her killed? Oh Joss, what a tease you are.

Page48 said...

I enjoyed "Norman Again", but had that closing scene been the series finale, I would have lost it. I would have sued.

I thought "Entropy" was great. I loved Anya's desperate attempts to get the Scoobs to "wish" for penis explosion or knotted intestines for her beloved Xander. As amusing as that was, the whole thing just went flat out dark, depressing and delicious. Oh, the humanity! And, once again, Xander proves he's a tool at heart. I wanted Spike to ring Xander's bell, but....chip.

People with agendas want to be offended. They crave it. Like the clown that wanted "Money For Nothing" censored, it seems that those Terror Kittens were just brimming with Xander-like righteous indignation. It was all cooped up inside their little hearts and just had to come out (so to speak). There was no reason for anyone to equate Tara's death with anyone's homophobia. Hell, they killed Buffy twice. Is that because she banged a pair of vampires? How vampophobic of those writers. Oh, my goodness, the outrage of it all.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Buffy has her job at DMP back - and she must still have it in Entropy because the nerds have it under surveillance.

Normal Again reminds me of the Deep Space Nine episode Far Beyond the Stars where Sisko flashes between the station and being a science fiction writer who eventually ends up in a mental institution.

Xander is particularly jerky and self-centred in these episodes. He's mean to Spike for no good reason (didn't he like his wedding gift?) He's vicious and drinking - and he's the guy who walked out on the wedding, not the victim.

Buffy's parents are together at the hospital - but Sunnydale isn't what broke them up in the usual reality. They also rewrite history - there is no indication Joyce has heard anything about vampires from Buffy before she 'comes out' as a Slayer on the show.

Buffy has that odd line "I should be taller than you" to Dawn. She should be taller than Joyce too, but she isn't. :) I sympathize - I'm shorter than my mom.

Buffy becomes the horror villain she usually fights. The basement becomes the set of a slasher film.

Is Xander becoming such a jerk because of his drinking - in other words, is he becoming his father?

Notice that Dawn doesn't apologize for stealing - just for getting caught.

Why doesn't Anya wish to Hallie? Is it because her specialty is crappy parents? If so, why isn't she out to curse Buffy's dad?

Willow is being much nicer to Anya now that she and Xander aren't a couple.

Buffy says that he doesn't hurt Buffy - but he will both with Anya and in the bathroom. And Buffy tells him to move on - is it really what she wants?

Andrew watching Spike - he really needs a boyfriend, and not Warren.

Note to Xander and Buffy - you don't get to break up with someone then decide who they can be with.

Anya should stay out of the Magic Box - Giles, Spike - it's erotically dangerous. Maybe it's the presence of the money.

I have to admit, I was spoiled for Seeing Red - and I was spoiled wrong. Not Tara dying - I'd known that for months. But I heard that Spike raped Buffy. I was so upset that I broke out in a rash. I was probably the only person I knew who was relieved by the scene, considering what was in my head.

That bed scene with Tara and Willow? Alex offered for them to rehearse it at his place. Naughty boy.

If Buffy didn't come home all night - when did she change her clothes and do her hair?

Hey Buffy - that's a pretty cool Vampirella figure. Don't be turning up your nose.

Listen for the recurring catch phrase this season. "It's a thing."

The other guys do all the work and Warren reaps the benefits. He's the 1%.

There's a double standard going - Anya's slaughtered lots.

I think what offends me most about the bathroom scene is how contrived it is. Buffy breaks a tombstone with her back? Really? She weighs about a hundred pounds. And behaves like the victim so Spike looks worse?

That being said, yes, he tried to rape her. But look at his face when he realizes it. He's horrified. (Unlike Xander in The Pack BTW.)

This show is down on booze - Beer Bad, Willow the brave little toaster, the Harrises, Xander, Spike and his big tumbler of scotch (and the Jack the episode before.)

Colleen/redeem147 said...

By behaves like the victim, I'm not implying that Buffy isn't the victim here, but that she is portrayed as being emotionally weaker than she is. It seems very ooc to me.

Do I have Marti Noxon issues? Big time.

Cynthea said...

Nikki, the abuse you describe as a result of the e-mail onslaught sounds horrendous! As I imply in my reference to Wilts' paper, I do believe that audiences need to understand why people might be upset with what appears to be yet another representation of a sterotypical lesbian fate; however, within the larger context of the Buffyverse, I completely agree with you that Tara is much more than "only" a lesbian. I will be interested to see if reaction over Tara's death is as controversial (in terms of the death of a lesbian character) now that lesbian representation on television is more diverse than when the episode first aired.

Alyson, I enjoyed reading your response to "Normal Again"--in particular I appreciated the focus on the "comfort" of the world (or gradual lack thereof in Season Six). This point got me thinking about how the show comforts me--so much so that when I cannot sleep at night I listen to an episode of Buffy on my iPod to help me fall asleep. That's not to say I find the show snooze-worthy! Obviously I find it fascinating enough to write about for over six years (thus far) and to watch the entire series a dozen times or so. Listening to the show helps me fall asleep because it lulls me into another world and stops me from thinking about "normal" day-to-day tasks. It doesn't matter what episode it is or how many fight scenes occur, the mere fact of it--hearing the characters engage in their world--helps me to relax.

Christina B said...

What a dark, dark week. I feel like my heart is in a million pieces after these six episodes!

Normal Again--

My first Buffy watch was actually earlier this year. I remember when I got to 'Normal Again', I sent Nikki a message on Facebook.
Luckily, I still have it! ;)

I said, "Nikki!! "Normal Again"!!

OMG! Real or not real?? LOVED that ending! Now I'll always wonder!"

Nikki said, "I KNOW, right?? Two words for that episode: Brill. Yant."

Hehe, I was so lucky to have Nikki to squee to, then and now. :)

I just ache for Xander at the end of this episode. :(

Seeing Red--
I was dreading this episode this time around.
The first time I watched it, back in April of this year, I was completely unspoiled. I had NO idea Tara was about to die, so you can imagine the shock I felt when the shot rang out, Tara said, "Your shirt..." and crumpled to the floor. Willow's pain was so clearly felt, and I found myself sobbing into a pillow.

Being someone who has only seen BtVS for the first time this year, I can honestly say that I completely agree with Nikki. To me, Tara is not 'the lesbian'. Tara is Tara. beautiful and loving and sweet and shy.
Tara and Willow are not 'the lesbian couple'. Tara and Willow share a love that many of us dream of having. Not a love that's defined because they're two women...But a deep, passionate, comfortable love.
I find it almost insulting that anyone would try to demean that love by putting a title or stereotype to it.

Now, do I feel that way because I'm viewing BtVS in a world that's more tolerant than it was 15 years ago when it first aired? Possibly...but I like to think that I've always been a very open-minded person, and I like to think that even back then, I'd argue that love is love, no matter who you love.


Onto Angel!

What a very dark episode.
Of course I was in tears at the end. The horror and shock I felt when Angel was sure that Wesley knew he WAS Angel and not Angelus before I tried to kill him.
Ugh, heartbreaking.

Double or Nothing--
This episode seemed oddly placed. I enjoyed the scenes between Angel and Cordy (HATE her hair) and the sad scenes with Wesley...but I didn't really care much for the Gunn plot at all.

The Price--
Loved Angel saying, "Gru, a damsel in distress. You know what to do."
A total WTF ending. Yes, I actually said out loud, "WTF?!?"

Gru has been fun lately. I enjoy watching him learn about modern things.

I'm getting kind of miffed that Lorne keeps getting shoved into the background.

And tonight I also realized that when Buffy ends, I'll have to watch the last season of Angel all alone! Boohoo! :(

Efthymia said...

"Normal Again":

This episode is C.R.E.E.P.Y! And great!

Well, it's not all in Buffy's mind, it's in Joss Whedon's mind! Duh!

Anyway, not central to the episode, but I'm glad that Xander at least realises that he "screwed up real bad".

So good, and at the same time so sad to see Joyce again.

"Just three pathetic little men" - and for this, in a way, the worst of her foes. I don't understand why people keep underestimating them...

In the '70s, psychologist David Rosenhan conducted an experiment in which some people (his collaborators) entered mental institutions claiming to have strong indicators of psychiatric problems (hallucinations etc), when in fact they were perfectly healthy; after some short time in the finstitutions, when they said that they were perfectly fine, that whatever treatment they had received had worked and that they no longer experienced what they had claimed to have experienced, they still would not be released (read "On being sane in insane places" for a much better understanding on this than my description). Even if this experiment happened so many years ago, and it had great impact to the psychiatric/psychologic community, to this day, once you've been labeled as mentally ill, it's incredibly difficult to remove the label. Therefore, I highly doubt that any person claiming to have been called as the chosen super-strong hero/ine to slay vampires would have been released just like that after only two weeks, and without further observation/treatment. And yes, I don't have a problem with the vampires and other monsters in the show (who we know from the first moment that they are fictional, and a use of fantasy to talk about other things), but I do have a problem with that, which is supposed to be a represantation of reality (plus, it does indeed clash with what we saw in the first 2-3 seasons regarding Joyce's reaction to Buffy's Slayer status. You would think having been institutionilised before, burning her school gym down would have been her ticket back to a mental institution, and not to Sunnydale.)

Yes, Dawn, because everyone's ideal reality is to be institutionilised and heavily medicated! Once again, this is all about YOU!
Ugh, I don't know about Buffy, but I certainly DO want Dawn gone.

We always focus on how hot and funny Spike is, so we forget how wise he often is.

I don't know why people got so upset with the prospect of it all being a delusion of Buffy's. What, they thought everything was happening right around the corner? It's a fantastical/imaginary world, with fantastical/imaginary characters, and it draws viewers in by the represantations and symbolisms it makes. Whether this world and these characters originate in a TV character's mind or not, it doesn't diminish my enjoyment of them and my investment in them.
Plus, I can take the entire episode as another great symbolism: women are diagnosed for illness of any kind more and are prescribed medication more, not because there is really something wrong with them more often than there is with men, but just because they are women (and supposedly weaker, with fragile psychologies and more prone to disease than men). To have Buffy accept her being a strong person as the reality and escape the institute (-patriarchal control) is very empowering.

To anyone who liked this episode, I strongly recomment Life On Mars (UK).

Efthymia said...


I'm with Anya, what Xander did to her was far worse, and they're not even together anymore.
In the words of Ross Geller "WE WERE ON A BREAK!".

Buffy has even less right to be upset.

"Seeing Red":

Well, this is a good episode for some fun having-your-heart-ripped-out-of-your-chest!

So, Buffy mistreats Spike, calls him a monster, even beats him up on a couple of occasions, always makes sure he knows she's just using him, dumps him, and now Spike's the bad guy for having had sex with Anya and oh!poor Buffy got hurt?
Of course, I'm talking about the first part of the episode, and not the attempted rape scene. That scene, I hate. I hate it for two reasons: (1) because I love Spike and have been defending him from the Scoobies' attacks for so long (even a few lines above), and now he does something so loathsome that justifies them and disappoints and hurts me incredibly, and (2) because they don't make it very obvious that it's about power and control -which is what rape is about- and made it seem a bit about love.

I feel really bad about it, but when I see the episode title and remember Willow's blood-spattered shirt and Tara pointing it out, I can't help but remember Shaun of the Dead's "You've got red on you." :/
I doesn't happen to me while watching the episode, though, so I guess I'm not a complete cold-hearted monster yet.

Regarding Tara's sexual orientation and her death, I find the association and the reactions mentioned stupid, and I'm sorry if I'm offending anyone, but I'm sticking to this 'stupid'!
I don't remember if I read it somewhere or if it was in a commentary, but Joss Whedon said that deciding NOT to kill Tara because she was homosexual would show far more discrimination, because then it would be a decision based on a character's sexuality and not based on what purpose the character serves and what their death means for the rest of them.
This is a show that has Larry, a guy who when he comes out becomes a better person and is even a White Hat in the alternative universe of "The Wish"; that has one of it's main characters -and arguably the most loved one- fall for a person of the same sex; that has said character,Willow, choosing that person of the same sex, Tara, over the much loved Oz; that depicts this homoesexual relationship as normal and lovely; that has the first ever lesbian kiss in prime-time TV; and this is the show they called homophobic?
In "Smashed", the scene in which Willow and Amy turn the annoying guys into cage dancers wasn't originally so. Writer Drew Z. Greenberg had the guys being turned gay and kissing each other after they had called Willow 'Ellen', but Joss Whedon intervened and had that changed, because he said that he didn't want it to seem like anyone's sexuality can be changed with a flick of the wrist, and because it shouldn't look like homosexuality is a punishment. Yes, what an obvious homophobe!

Efthymia said...

Personally, if I had chosen any person to be killed off at this point, I would have also chosen Tara. It's of course sad that she had to die, but she didn't really serve any purpose in the show anymore other than being Willow's girlfriend; she wasn't comedic relief, she wasn't a villain, and she wasn't a parental figure for Dawn anymore. But her death does serve a purpose, not only because of the consequences it has, but to show what a threat and how evil Warren really is.

I never really got into Tara. I thought she was OK, but I didn't really care whether she was around, and both her life and death affected me only to the extent of what they meant for Willow. Of course, these feelings towards Tara should probably worry me, because she's the character I'm most like, not only in the Buffyverse, but in any TV show I've ever watched. Hmmm...

Efthymia said...

I've wanted to express my feelings for the Trio for so long, but I had to wait for this episode, when we've had a fuller picture on all three of them!

Jonathan, after everything that's happened, I still kind of like. He never felt evil to me, just a misguided kid with a lot of issues. In "Superstar" he hadn't realised how wrong what he did was, and when he saw the consequences of his spell he eventually put the world's best interests over his own. Bullied and rejected during his school years, he teamed up with the other two wishing to finally have some power, because his experience had shown him that this was what made people important and attractive. No matter how self-centered, Jonathan never wanted to kill anyone, neither Buffy or anyone else. Katrina's death takes such a toll on him that the others fear that he's going to tell on them, showing that essentially he is not only more moral than them, but that he values morality and doing the right thing more than having power. And without his help, Buffy wouldn't have defeated Warren.

Warren, on the other hand, is pure evil! I find him the most dangerous villain in BtVS, and I hate him more than any other Big Bad (or simple Bad), just as I hate Dolores Umbridge far more than Voldemort in the Harry Potter series. See, the Master is a vampire; of course he doesn't care about humans (it would be like asking a lion to care about the antilopes), but he does care about his own species, and he works towards the vampires' well being, so his actions are understandable. Angel(us) is also a vampire, who feels vengeful towards those he thinks made him go against his nature, and he's also someone we've come to know and love (OK, me not so much, but it's besides the point), and we want to see him 'cured', because we know it can happen; Spike just likes to have fun and is not really interested in destroying the world, he just wants to keep himself and his lover safe, to the point where he collaborates with the Slayer to actually save the world, and Drusilla is demented, a condition caused by extreme suffering, and despite them both being vampires, we see them show love and affection. The Master is also not human, so again why should he care about humans? he just wants to assume his pure demon form, which is a better condition for him than the one he has, and despite being a demon, he cares about his assistant/deputy/whatever-he-was, he cares about Faith, and he cared about his wife (plus, he is very amusing!). Glory just wants to get back to her own dimension -meaning she's not really interested in hurting this dimension, if she could return to her own just by snapping her fingers she would do that-, and Ben just wants to lead a normal life and be free from the monster inside him, he actually wants to avoid any harm being done. (There's more of this kind regarding the Bads that are to come). But Warren? He's a human. Just a regular person. A person who doesn't seem to have gone through any kind of suffering. A person who, with all the skills he has, CHOOSES to do evil rather than good. He doesn't come from another dimension, he doesn't belong to another species, he didn't have anything done on him; so there's no excuse or justification. He's the Hitler of the Buffyverse.

Andrew, although not as obviously evil, is actually very threatening; who would Voldemort be without Bellatrix Lestrange and the Deatheaters, who would Hitler be without Goebbels and the Nazis, and who would Warren be without Andrew? Andrew's fascination with Warren is stronger than any sense of right and wrong, and the way he finds getting away with murder more wonder-worthy than the fact that they commited the murder in the first place is terrifying. He doesn't seem to do much himself, but the way he blindly follows Warren without thinking makes him some sort of a fanatic, and fanatics, in my opinion, are some of the most dangerous people.

[So, so sorry for the extreme babbling!]

Nikki Stafford said...

ChristinaB brings up an excellent point when she asks, "I find it almost insulting that anyone would try to demean that love by putting a title or stereotype to it. Now, do I feel that way because I'm viewing BtVS in a world that's more tolerant than it was 15 years ago when it first aired?"

This episode aired a mere 10 years ago, actually (not even; it was spring 2002). And yet, at the time, Ellen had just come out on the air and the newspapers made a BIG DEAL about how she said the words "I'm gay" loudly and proudly. Roseanne had kissed another woman in a gay bar a few years before that, and it was the first time two women had kissed on television.

It was only 10 years ago, and yet any depiction of lesbianism on television was very, very new. For us now, we watch this and probably don't give it a second thought. But at the time, Joss normalized this relationship so much that he actually stuck Tara and Willow's first kiss in "The Body," so it wouldn't become the focal point of the episode. And as such, viewers saw the first kiss but were so wrapped up in the death of Joyce that when the next kiss and the next one happened, no one thought anything of it.

So the one thing I can say in defense of those who were so hostile after the episode is that this wasn't one of many lesbian relationships being portrayed on television at the time; it was virtually the only one. So to lose it was a big slap in the face to viewers who were thinking, "FINALLY."

That said, unfortunately hostilities moved too far, as I described, and Joss and his writing team got caught in the crossfire and were turned into monsters rather than the team of people who had created this wonderful relationship in the first place.

Nikki Stafford said...

Cynthea: I LOVE the image of you listening to Buffy episodes on your iPod to go to sleep. Last night I was watching the third episode of Ringer (god, I'm so behind) and my husband came into the room and said, "Are you really still watching this show?" And I actually said, "Yeah... I don't know, there's just something about Sarah Michelle Gellar. She makes it feel like home." In a way, I feel like Dawn curled up with the BuffyBot. SMG makes me think Buffy's still here, on my television, having new adventures. With bad special effects. ;)

Missy said...

'Normal Again'

Whats interesting about this episode to me is that the only part I enjoy is the Mental Institution.

(Random sidenote:Less then a yr later I spent my first time in an institution)

Sarah's acting is some of the best she's EVER done on BtVS(Or any other show/movie).

And the final monologue from Joyce and Buffy's response is one of the most heartbreaking pieces of dialogue.


Two of my all time fav characters get groin-y.
I felt equal parts sad for Xander and almost shocked that Spike would think sleeping with Anya was a good idea.
But I love Anya and I love Spike so it's all good. ;)

Anya(and Emma's) comedic timing is brilliant.(It's never not actually).

'Seeing Red'

Along with the next three episodes has become one of my most watched eps.
I've noticed recently that my most watched eps are the sad ,depressing someone dies/gets emotionally terrorized.(ie:The Pack,Prophecy Girl,Becoming,Graduation Day,The Body,The Gift,Bargaining and the final arc of S6,plus afew S7 eps)

I chalk it up to loving darkness in my stories(though if the doctors at the aforementioned Instutition ever heard that I'd still be there)
thats a feeling that has leaked over from my real life unfortunately.

Tara and Willow are friggin'(I'm keeping my potty mouth quiet) beautiful.Everything about them is loving and true and forever.
When I read the whole Homophobic Joss comments some yrs after they were made(lack of money for a computer is why it wasn't until 2003 that I really learnt about the ins and outs of this show)I was shocked,Joss the man that fights for equality, really?The guy that advocates for people with less then stellar leaders or goverments that find Women,The LGBT community and Children's education not worth a damn thing...the guy that wants people to have a better future?That wants the world to be better!Really he'd be sooo petty as to kill a character because of her sexuality?C'mon!
I love Tara...I hated the fact the she died and that she had too.But Joss writes for the end game...Tara's death changes the way everything unfolds from this point on and it's not half bad..Willow will become the woman Tara always knew she could be(and that Willow couldnt see befor Tara's death and thats kinda beautiful.They met at the right time and grew from knowing each other..the Tara from 'Hush' is a different Tara from 'Older and Far Away').

As for the AR ,People have said that it was out of character for Spike though I tend to think Spike is capable of doing something that heinous.
It's clear from the moment he sees Dru fawning over Angelus back in S2.
(not to mention Cecily in 'Fool For Love')
Spike doesn't take kindly to being used.
He loves on a deeper level then most and when someone tells him he's a FOOL for doing so ..he feels like people are attacking something sooo fundemental to who he is ,he'll lash out.Granted this is the most extreme lash out he's had.
It's gross invasion and not all his fault and not all Buffy's fault the each played there parts.
I'd like to point out he did feel terrible about it and yet Buffy doesn't so much as apologise for using him...let me stress she did not ask for what he did in noway shape or form..but she also never said sorry for using him to get through her "Bad" time.

@Efthymia he totally is the Hitler of the Buffyverse.

Also bring on the final 3..Damn I adore these last few episodes.

Missy said...

Whoa I grossly miscounted when I had my facility stay and when these eps aired(I blame being hungry Lol)

My stay was the first two weeks of Feb 2002..which means 'Normal Again had only just aired/or was about too.
We always got the eps 2/3weeks behind.

Marebabe said...

@Christina: I’m like you, watching Angel for the first time. Here’s an idea. IF Nikki doesn’t cover the last season of Angel here on her blog, you and I can make up our own schedule and continue the discussion over on Facebook. I would really enjoy that.

@Efthymia: Great discussion about Warren and the other Big Bads in the Buffyverse. I totally see your point. Warren IS like Hitler, and Andrew is like Goebbels and the Nazis. Really chilling, now that I think about it.

@Nikki: It sounds to me like Joss and his team were NOT “caught in the crossfire”. That makes it sound more or less accidental. It’s more like they were in the crossHAIRS of some really pissed-off snipers! (You were, too, and I’m so very sorry that happened.)

Quarks said...

Compared to this week’s episodes, the last few weeks’ seem to have been positively cheerful. You can tell it’s an extremely emotional week when ‘Entropy’, which is itself a fairly emotional episode, is barely mentioned in the blog post. When faced with the events of ‘Seeing Red’ what happened the episode before doesn’t really register.

Personally, I am not a big fan of ‘Normal Again’. I don’t particularly like the whole ‘St. Elsewhere’ plot in general, and I don’t particularly like such an ambiguous ending. I don’t mind when endings are ambiguous about what happens next, like the ‘Lost’ finale, but I just don’t like when it’s unclear whether anything we’ve seen actually happened in the universe.

I reassure myself that what we’ve seen is true by the same logic that Libby uses in ‘Dave’ on ‘Lost’. Hurley didn’t know about things which had happened to Libby, ergo it couldn’t all be in his mind. By the same token, Buffy doesn’t know about everything which we see in the Buffverse (e.g. on ‘Angel’) so it can’t all be in her mind. It’s not infallible logic, but it gives me a certain amount of peace of mind.

‘Entropy’ is a really good episode, with some great acting and dialogue. It’s clear how much both Xander and Anya are hurting from the events of ‘Hell’s Bells’, although much of our sympathy tends to go to Anya as it was Xander who called off the wedding. Xander has realised that the big mistake he made was proposing in the first place; if it weren’t for that then they would probably be still a happy couple. Anya meanwhile just wants revenge on him for breaking her heart; we see how much pain she is in and once again here we can see how she is so much more than just the sarcastic ex-demon she seemed initially.

One slight nitpick: in ‘Older and Far Away’ Buffy got from Dawn seeing a guidance counsellor to Dawn making a wish to a vengeance demon in seconds, while here she has an ex-vengeance demon (as far as she knows) wronged woman trying to get her to make a wish and she doesn’t realise what’s going on.

Watching ‘Entropy’, something occurred to me. Despite her various character flaws, one thing that you can say about Buffy is that she has never cheated on any of her boyfriends, which is actually fairly rare in the show. Willow and Xander cheated on Oz and Cordelia with each other. In this episode, Anya and Spike (sort of) cheated on Xander and Buffy. Even Oz cheated on Willow with Veruca. But Buffy always remains loyal.

The ending scenes in this episode are fantastic. The scene with Xander, Anya, Buffy and Spike outside the Magic Box is heart-breaking on so many levels, and is both acted and scripted extremely well. And the scene with Willow and Tara making up is one of my favourite Willow and Tara moments, even if it’s a bit bittersweet knowing what is coming next.

Quarks said...


‘Seeing Red’ is one of the most heart-breaking episodes in the whole of ‘Buffy’ for me, mostly because of the ending. I am a huge Willow and Tara fan, and it makes me sad that their time together was cut short. However, part of me is happy that Tara died when she did; having spent her last day with the people she loves. Tara was certainly happy just before she died. Of course, it is much more painful for Willow who has to go on living without her. I comfort myself over Tara’s death by thinking that someday she and Willow will be sitting next to each other in a church (or somewhere similar) surrounded by other happy couples (who I mostly can’t decide) while somebody (Joyce? Maybe Giles?) walks down the aisle and opens the doors, bathing them in white light and allowing them to move on to a happily-ever-afterlife.

Despite the fact that I do love Willow and Tara together, and part of me does wish that Tara had never died, I do understand why Tara’s death was necessary for what’s to come. I won’t say any more than that this week for fear of spoilers. I certainly don’t think that Tara’s death was homophobic. Yes, she died after she had made up with her girlfriend, but all that meant was that she died when she was happy, which does seem to be a trend in ‘Buffy’. Jenny died just after she and Giles had started to reconnect. Joyce died after she was back to living a normal life after her tumour was ‘cured’. Buffy died saving her sister, her friends and the world. It’s ridiculous to say that the show is homophobic because one of the characters that died in it was a lesbian. Before Tara’s death the two most important characters who had died (and didn’t come back) were Jenny and Joyce. They were both adults (compared to the Scoobies); does that make the show ageist? Or sexist, because they were both women? Or heterophobic (if that’s a word) because they weren’t lesbians?

Overall, the episodes this week are great episodes, although incredibly heart-breaking. Next week, we have one of the best finales in the show. It’s up there with ‘Prophecy Girl’. And ‘Becoming’. And ‘Graduation Day’. And ‘Restless’. And ‘The Gift’. And the Season 7 finale.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Not long after Tara's death on the show, I saw Amber at a convention. The young girl in front of me in the line was so excited to see her - she was a lesbian who had only discovered Tara a few weeks before her death on the show, and she was devastated. There was another girl in the line who had just told Amber that Tara had kept her from killing herself. No, Tara wasn't just a lesbian, but she was a lesbian. I think Joss blew it. I think he knows that now. That being said, the Kittens planning to kill DeKnight was an overreaction.

I still have friends who are fully convinced that Joss is a misogynist for other reasons, but we'll discuss season seven later.

More about the bathroom - I don't think Spike was out of character for someone who was that drunk and who had thought from what Dawn said had feelings for him. And it wasn't about power - it was about desperation and getting back to the one thing that he thought made Buffy feel alive (she'd told him enough times.) Oddly, it has nothing to do with being an evil vampire, and everything to do with being a man. If it was about being an evil vampire, he would have bit and drained her (something he could have easily done in the situation.)

Buffy stopped him, he came to his senses and he didn't try again.

Angel, who morally (since souls are important to moral decision in the Buffyverse) was on equal ground with Spike when he murdered Jenny, was forgiven.

Or, as they say, "It's complicated."

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I don't think the Kittens were too happy when Amber came out as Adam's girlfriend, btw. ;)

Suzanne said...

"Normal Again" was the first Buffy episode I ever saw; I watched a rerun of it on morning television one morning about a year before I watched the whole series for my first time. I was fascinated by it at the time, but I didn't want to begin Buffy so late in its run, so I decided to wait to see the whole series on DVD. When I came to it the first time through the series, I really loved it, and I loved it again this time. I think it is one of my favorite episodes of the series, actually. Here are some of the reasons I think it is so great.

First of all, I enjoy having to rethink everything I always thought about the Buffy universe. It presents a mental challenge that is quite fun to experience. I appreciate the way they played the game, though, since if you watch closely, you will notice that every point in which you feel like they are pulling the rug out from under you, making you think that the Sunnydale world isn't real, they put an element into the story that proves it actually is real.

For example, we saw the Troika plan their attack on Buffy at the beginning of the episode from the Troika's perspective, not Buffy's. This frames the show from a perspective that makes Sunnydale real. The plan that the Troika comes up with to harm is this time is in line with the overall theme behind all of the plans they have used on her in past episodes; they are trying to erase her identity. First they make her feel out of sync with time and, as a result, with her friends. The second time they cause her to become invisible. Now, they have robbed her of her sanity. This third plan is so similar to the others that it makes it very evident to me that Sunnydale is real and that Buffy's mind is being messed with again. It is just that this plan is the most ingenious and insidious of all of the Troika's plan since they are becoming more of a threat to Buffy and to the audience.

Also, every time Buffy goes to the world of the mental institution, she comes back and some tangible reference to the monster who stabbed her is referenced. This happens consistently throughout the entire episode, even up until the final scene when right before we see the last scene in the institution, Buffy makes a choice to stay in Sunnydale and take the potion. She hasn't taken in yet, though, which is why the poison still causes her to go back to the hospital one more time. Her eyes look vacant to the doctor and to her parents because she is willfully not participating in that world any more now that she has decided to stay in Sunnydale and truly "live" there again. Because of all of these reasons, I don't have any feelings that this episode is ambiguous. In fact, I truly enjoy the way it was set up since it makes you think, but in my opinion, it doesn't leave you handing. I also greatly enjoy the symbolism behind it and the way it consistently returns to themes we have seen all season.

One other small bonus of the episode -- I love seeing whiney Dawn have her mouth taped! I know that scene is supposed to be scary, but part of me wonders if maybe Joss and Co. put it in there as an inside joke for all of the fans who complained about Dawn since her arrival. I know Nikki mentioned this point in her wonderful book and some of you have mentioned it, too, but it bear repeating. What type of person would be so insensitive as to claim that because a person is trapped in a reality in which they are living in a mental institution that she is choosing to do so to escape her sister. It isn't all about you Dawn!

Suzanne said...

Part II:

As for Entropy and Seeing Red, both are very rough episodes, but good. Xander really has a tough time dealing with feelings, and as Anya points out, he seems to need to make jokes all of the time because when he doesn't (like in Entropy), he can become very nasty. He sounded very close to being like his father at points in this episode.

As for Seeing Red, of course, I was devasted by what happened to Tara. Never once did it ever cross my mind to think that the writers were doing this to her because she was a lesbian, though. Like everyone else here has sad, I think it is very sad that anyone would have viewed it this way. However, after hearing some of the other explanations of why people may have reacted this way at the time, I can understand it a little better. I hate that you had to be on the receiving end of this, though, Nikki! You sure don't deserve it, and they obviously didn't read your wonderful book closely.

Lastly, no matter how many times I watch the scene with Spike, I will never be able to get it out of my head that it seemed very contrived to me. It was like the writers decided that he was becoming too loveable and that the relationship between Spike and Buffy was making Buffy look like the "bad guy," so they needed to make us hate him again. Why was Buffy having such a hard time fighting back after that hurt back scene from the gravestone? It makes no sense given she fell from a tower in her fight with Glory directly onto a concrete sidewalk and seemed to suffer no ill effects from that fall. Yet, we are to believe that breaking a gravestone with her back caused her so much suffering that she has difficulty fighting off Spike. I know that this scene is designed with a purpose in mind that will become important later on (no spoilers), but it bothers me every time I watch it. It just doesn’t feel organic to the story somehow.

Christina B said...

@Marebabe-I'm in! :)

Witness Aria said...

Couple of things. This is a fanwank for Normal Again I suppose that I picked up somewhere, but it works for me. Maybe it will for some of you. Buffy was never institutionalized in the season 1-4 reality, but this is post-Dawn insertion into the memories of the world. That could have/would have had to have changed little things about the past (inside the characters' heads at least). It's not a full-on alternate reality exactly, but it operates about the same way. In Becoming (and any earlier eps where Buffy slips up and mentions slaying or vamps to Joyce), Buffy had never talked about vampires after being called and been examined for it. But by Normal Again, her memories had been altered by having had a little sister the whole time. (Knowing Dawn, she probably outed something slaying related Buffy did and brought it out in the open to their parents.) Like I said, it works for me to get past the slight continuity glitch there. So she never was institutionalized, she just remembers that she was. (Now I'm thinking about Fringe.)
Also re Buffy during THE scene. I really believe she was more -- trying to say this without getting into the whole everything. I know they had her being beat up and tired, and that played a part in the whole thing, but I never really read her initial reactions as being too hurt to fight back. I personally think she was more made vulnerable by the setting (very personal space of the bathroom that I don't think we'd ever spent much time in before) and the fact that in some ways she did trust Spike and on a physicality level was comfortable with him. So I really feel it was more shock at the betrayal that made her quote/unquote weak for a few seconds before she rallied. It seemed really realistic to me that that could happen.
*shiver* Anyway. Like with Tara's death, I appreciate it for what comes out of it later, but it's damn hard to watch.

Suzanne said...

@Witness Aria, I like your explanation of Buffy's reaction during The Scene. That is the first time it makes sense to me. I always thought the fact that he came in the bathroom was significant, but I couldn't figure out how it was. It seemed like an odd scene in that very choice of it being the bathroom and the camera angle of it, too. Now that I read your comment, it comes together, and I realize that her "weakness" does come from being violated in her very personal space like that.

whedongeek1 said...

Suzanne: I'm glad you mentioned that about subjectivity in "Normal Again"! I meant to put something about that in the piece. You're right -- we don't just see Buffy's point of view in the episode, which begs the question of which reality is accurate. I suppose she could be hallucinating their realities even when she is not around, but it seems more likely that those moments act as a pin in the Sunnydale reality as more valid.

Cynthea: I like the idea of you listening to Buffy to get to sleep at night; I find the Scoobies comforting generally, too. And Giles...

whedongeek1 said...

Suzanne: I'm glad you mentioned that about subjectivity in "Normal Again"! I meant to put something about that in the piece. You're right -- we don't just see Buffy's point of view in the episode, which begs the question of which reality is accurate. I suppose she could be hallucinating their realities even when she is not around, but it seems more likely that those moments act as a pin in the Sunnydale reality as more valid.

Cynthea: I like the idea of you listening to Buffy to get to sleep at night; I find the Scoobies comforting generally, too. And Giles...

Missy said...



Who's thankful they didn't kill wesley?Because it very well could have went that way.
Hell he laid in that park for hours,bleeding out.AND GOT ROBBED.

It's chilling when Angel tells Wes "This isn't Angelus speaking,I want you to know that" *Shivers*
And then proceeds to smother him to death.

'Double Or Nothing'

Gunn breaks up with Fred because he sold his soul 7yrs ago.FOR A TRUCK!!

I windup feeling bad for both Fred & Gunn in this episode.

and I love Angel's line about NOT knowing that they were dating.

'The Price'

Theres always a Price(as the newbies will soon see over on BtVS)
But the Price on AtS is for trying to rescue someone doesn't seem fair...at first.
That is until NOT-So-Little Connor comes barreling through the tear in time."Hello Dad" Indeed.
I love that even though Wes is currently on the outs with Angel Investigations,he's still willing to help the woman he loves.
And kudos to Gunn for dropping the macho BS to get the cure... from Wes.

I also adore the final 3 AtS eps of S3.

Nikki Stafford said...

I can't believe I didn't comment on Angel this week... the scene where Angel puts the pillow over Wesley's face is one of the most gut-wrenching scenes I've ever gone through (and oddly, one of the reasons why I loved S3 so much). I just remember crying and crying after that had happened, and the shocked/hurt/OMG look on Wesley's face as Angel's being dragged away afterwards.

S3 is where Wesley became my favourite character on Angel. How he comes back from this moment is why he is now my favourite character in the entire Whedonverse.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I have kids. I was with Angel, holding down the pillow. Never liked Wesley again.

And no, I wouldn't smother someone in real life, but for a TV show I found the scene cathartic.

Blam said...

And now the highlight of Marebabe's week — not counting Nikki's own post, of course, and excepting any time our beloved Joan graces us with a new blog entry, and come to think of it her actually watching the assigned episodes with a glass of Asti Spumante really belongs at the top of the list...

Buffy 6.17 "Normal Again"
in which Andrew plays a magical didgeridoo, but it's not code or anything, really

Buffy: "Oh. Hi. You didn't, by chance, happen to just eat a couple nerds, didja?"

I think that it's unprecedented for a show to reveal — or even suggest, leaving it open to interpretation — that the entire series has been a dream or fantasy before the series finale. A single episode or so, yeah, as a "gotcha" plot point, or part of the series, like that infamous season of Dallas, sure... Not a whole series to date, though, while it's still in progress, as opposed to the awesome end-of-Newhart wink.

One thing that's fascinating about the idea that Buffy the Series is all in the character's head — except, that is, for the hospital scenes in this episode (unless you want to enter a totally recursive loop) — is that Buffy would be at least subconsciously aware of all the scenes we see in which Buffy herself doesn't appear. [I'd written that before reading the post or any of the comments, but I now see that Quarks mentioned this as a way to argue that the Sunnydale world is "real".] I don't know if that's necessarily a clincher in the case against hospitalized Buffy imagining her Slayer life; it's clearly an intricate delusion, if it is a delusion — I mean, geez, it includes her dying and even being removed from the "narrative" until she's brought back, so it stands to reason that she'd be imagining events beyond those she (or her avatar) experiences first-hand.

What really gets under my skin is that final scene in the hospital with a catatonic Buffy, after Buffy — whichever Buffy you think is the actual Buffy — has made the choice to live her life in Sunnydale. I don't know that there is, to use one of the fancy words our guest scholars throw around, a diegetic explanation for that scene if the LA psychiatric ward isn't the empirical truth (within the reality of the series)... unless, I rationalize, Andrew actually either accessed or conjured into being an alternate reality in which a Buffy Summers in a supernatural-free world like ours had lost herself in the world being played out in the series as a whole, a reality that continues to exist (whether it predated the didgeridoo spell or not) after "our" Buffy is able to break free of its pull. Neither Buffy would be fake or imaginary in this reading, but rather both would be real and the Sunnydale Buffy would simply be aware of the hospitalized LA Buffy for the first time (thinking she was her own potentially real self).

The non-diegetic music is new this season, I think, speaking of the diegetic happenings. And it's weird. I hadn't realized the general lack of it in seasons past until it started happening here in Season 6, but I feel like the music in the series to date has almost exclusively had an in-story source, be it a band at the Bronze or the stereo, even if that source was used as either intro or outro to playing the music over a given scene for mood like so many series do now (especially WB / UPN / CW series).

VW: copone — v. 1. [kop wun] Get handsy. 2. [koh pohn] Make cornbread in tandem.

Blam said...

Andrew: "We're on the lam; we have to lay low. Underground?"
Jonathan: "That's figurative, doofus."

Maybe that's not the funniest line — a lot of the goofing around that the boys do just kind-of lays there as vague attempts at humor — but I mention it because Jonathan's next line, "Did you even read Legion of Doom?", frustratingly makes no sense. In our world (Buffy's must be different) the Legion of Doom only existed in Super Friends cartoons. There's never been a comic-book version — at least not until this year's Flashpoint: Legion of Doom miniseries.

Buffy 6.18 "Entropy"
in which things fall apart, even further, for the centre cannot hold, although we'll have to wait another episode for the blood-dimmed tide to truly be loosed upon Buffy's world, and in the meantime Dawn is carbo-loading

Pancakes, toast, and cereal! Got starch?

Willow: "Buffy? Xander's gone. He took your axe."

Buffy: "Anya, Xander's my friend. I-I know what he did was wrong, and if it happened to me I'd..."
Anya: (hopefully) "... wish his penis would explode?"

Dawn: "I never use that word anymore."
Anya: "'Coagulate'?"

Willow: "Oh! Did I tell ya 'bout the demon eggs?"

I really like Buffy's hair in this episode, so naturally nobody even mentions it now. 8^)

Halfrek can't have been Cecily, because sensitive boy and champion grudge-holder Spike wouldn't just be hanging out like he barely notices her (and not in a spiteful "Look, I'm not noticing you!" way) in the Magic Box.

Blam said...

Buffy 6.19 "Seeing Red"
in which despite their lack of avarice for "pumped-up kicks" the Scoobies are unwittingly placed in the position, with no warning and to no avail, of having to outrun Warren's gun, faster than his bullets

There is no more obnoxious move (and in retrospect, perhaps no greater tell) than Amber Benson showing up in the opening credits just in time for the psyche-out.

Buffy: "Goodnight, bitch."

Willow: "Sleeping together? Y'mean like the naked kind of together?"

Spike looks so out-of-place dressed in black in the bright, white lights of the (extremely spacious) bathroom — stark, even vulnerable — much like he did in the holding cells at the Initiative labs. Of course it's Buffy who's really the vulnerable one, in a scene that's all the more painful to watch because it's occurring between characters who know one another and both of whom the viewers — even those who aren't Buffy/Spike relationshippers — have come to view sympathetically. Without taking anything away from the utter abomination of Spike forcing himself on Buffy like that, I find myself pulled into Spike's own disgust with himself and his inability to understand how he could possibly do such a thing if he loves Buffy yet how he could possibly love Buffy (or care about how wrong it is to do such a thing) if he is, after all, evil by nature.

The dichotomy will lead to perhaps the most fascinating turn in perhaps the most fascinating character arc in all of Buffy, although from what I recall it has its rough patches from a storytelling perspective; I shall say no more.

I can't imagine how hard that scene was to film for the cast and crew, but Sarah Michelle Gellar really delivered.

Spike must really mean business when he leaves town on that motorcycle. Usually when he makes dramatic pronouncements out loud to himself he ends up falling into a hole in the ground or getting zapped by government agents.

It just struck me for the first time — at least consciously, that I can recall — that Warren, Andrew, and Jonathan are like a live-action, dark-magic-wielding, supervillainous version of Evan Dorkin's Eltingville Comic-Book, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Role-Playing Club, a staple of his Slave Labor anthology Dork! (among other places) and the source material for a failed Adult Swim / Cartoon Network animated pilot.

VW: harbity — n. [har bih tee] Living peacefully by the coastline.

Blam said...

Angel 3.17 "Forgiving"
in which Angel does Sahjhan a solid

Fake spoiler alert! Just to prove there are no hard feelings, next Halloween Angel and Wesley dressed up together as the Smothers Brothers.

Yeah, I was totally shocked by that scene, which was so well played by both David Boreanaz and Alexis Denisof. In terms of the characters, even if you were on board with Wesley's actions from an emotional standpoint — he was trying to prevent the prophecy from playing out not only for the sake of the innocent newborn Connor, but for the sake of Angel — you can from a parental perspective (as Colleen said) totally get Angel's reaction, although chances are you wouldn't be so borderline-sociopath calm and premeditated about it. None of which means that it wasn't stupid of Wesley to not confide in any of the others about his translation of the prophecy, of course.

Sahjhan: "I can't tell you how much I missed doing that. I also missed gravity, friction, and smashing things to pieces."

Angel 3.18 "Double or Nothing"
in which we are shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here, and have to wonder if there's anyone in Los Angeles who doesn't know about the existence of demons

Jenoff: "Oh. You're that vampire."

The whole ending at Jenoff's club was sort-of lame, I thought, from the build-up of Angel's literal gamble to the backup plan when it fizzles out. And the fact that Gunn did still sign away his soul (or his "future" — I don't get why they didn't just come out and say "soul" to begin with and/or why they didn't stick consistently with the vague "future") in blood wasn't really addressed.

Angel 3.19 "The Price"
in which the hotel is overrun by translucent parasites, one of whom makes itself at home in Gunn and Wesley's favorite ug... er, purty bag of mostly water

Groo: "Angel... You and have fought side by side on more than one occasion — fellow warriors, shoulder to shoulder. By now my counsel must assuredly hold weight. So I beseech you to heed my words."
Angel: "Mmmkay."
Groo: "Pomegranate mist is the wrong color for this room."

Fred: "Ask me to research stuff on wave-particle dualities or the Schrödinger equation and I'm a hellcat, but... this?!?"

Oh, Fred... If you were subatomic, then according to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle I'd never know how fast you were traveling because I wouldn't be able to keep my eyes off of you.

VW: hemizend — n. [heh mee zend] What Magellan should've sailed off, according to the Flat Earth society.

Blam said...

Colleen: I still have friends who are fully convinced that Joss is a misogynist for other reasons,

Did somebody say "Dollhouse"?

Maybe it's because I was just comin' up with some verification-word definitions, but I look at "misogynist" and think "salty soup woman".

Missy said...


You just reminded me of that scene regarding paint colors.

I love that Groo can pronuonce Pomegranate(Because it's his mother's name) but Purple is too hard.Lol Purp-La.I wish he'd been that fun all along.

Linda345 said...

Just a little teeny comment this week to underscore what Nikki said about the deep love between Tara and Willow. Tara's first instinct when she was shot was to notice the red splatters marring Willow's shirt. "Willow, your shirt!" rather than, "Hey, I've been shot." I was stunned, and not prepared for that. How sad.

Marebabe said...

Hey, Blamerino! (Or is that Blameroony? I always get those mixed up.) I don’t always check in on Nik at Niteland on the weekends, but I’m so glad I did today. I’m honored by the shout-out, by the way. Also, I’m totally sober, I’ll have you know. ;)

Regarding the interesting word usements you structure, I couldn’t help noticing some of the EPIC sentences in today’s comments. Kinda worked my brain, there. Good stuff, Maynard.

I learned a new word today: copone. :)