Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Great Buffy Rewatch: Marebabe

I wanted to include some voices from the commentators -- those readers who followed the Great Buffy Rewatch from beginning to end. One of my favourites was Marebabe, who was actually watching the series for the first time all the way through with us, and through whose eyes I was able to see many things for the first time again. Every week she gave us great posts (she was usually the first one up!) and so I asked if she might be interested in writing something for us. And happily, she was! Take it away, Marebabe!

My First Time
By Mary everything-reminds-me-of-something-else Evans

Thank you, Nikki, esteemed Buffy scholars, fellow n00bs, loyal minions of the Nikkiverse, and honored lurkers. *adjusting glasses, glancing at notes*

Back in November, I did sort of a marathon, zooming through the last dozen-or-so episodes of Buffy S7 and Angel S4, well ahead of our rewatch schedule, so that I could prepare my comments and “hand them in” to Nikki, giving her plenty of time to arrange and format everything for this huge finale event. It was only AFTER I’d watched “ Chosen ” for the first time that I discovered I really should’ve seen “Home” first, in order to make sense of the amulet and Angel’s trip to Sunnydale. I looked up the original broadcast dates and found that, back in 2003, fans got to see “Home” TWO WEEKS before “ Chosen ”. Oh, well. I soon got straightened out and became less confused.

I liked how Angel called the scythe “that real cool axe thing”. It’s fortunate that Buffy got the scythe when she did, because Caleb seemed totally unstoppable and unkillable. But then Buffy’s line, referring to dead Caleb, “He had to split” was SUCH a groaner in my book. I could see it coming, and I was actually wincing, thinking, “Don’t say it. Please, don’t say it.” That’s exactly the kind of punny, wink-wink line that Arnold Schwarzenegger was always saying in his 1980s action movies. It seems to me that lines like that should be followed by a Groucho Marx eyebrow-waggle. It just didn’t work for me in Buffy. A minor nitpick, but there it is.

Moving on. My theory is that Joss had Dawn kick Buffy in the shin and call her “Dumb-ass” in order to demonstrate to the Dawn-haters that they were correct to hate Dawn.

I loved EVERYTHING about the Dungeons & Dragons scene, even though I didn’t immediately know it was D&D. (I’ve never played it or even seen anyone play it.) And Giles is this week’s winner in the best line competition: “Could it possibly get uglier? I used to be a highly respected Watcher. Now I’m a wounded dwarf with the mystical strength of a doily.”

I like to think that this D&D scene was the inspiration for the Risk scene in LOST: “ Australia is the key to the whole game.” In both stories, they did a very elegant fake-out, making us think the characters were having a real-life strategic summit conference when they were actually just taking a game-break.

I know it served to ratchet up the dramatic tension, but I kept wondering why they waited so late – until the last possible second – to have Willow do the spell that turned all the Potentials into Slayers. Was that necessary, for some reason I missed? (Seems to me that it could’ve easily been done that morning, or even the night before.) The massive army of Orcs, er, Turok-han, was already charging at them before the spell was complete. (Shoot. I just noticed how similar Turok-han is to Uruk-hai. They’re really, REALLY similar.)

I think White Willow was one of the most beautiful images of the entire series. It was “nifty”.

Let’s talk about the awesome, powerful music in this finale. That beautiful piano theme I’ve been enjoying all season long on the “language selection” screen of my DVDs played ever so softly over the end of Buffy and Angel’s farewell scene in the cemetery, as he backed into the shadows. It was exquisite, and I was delighted. Then when Buffy was wounded and handed the scythe to Faith, saying, “Hold the line”, we heard the start of that great battle music, which has been playing on the menu screen for S7. It reminded me of some of Howard Shore ’s fabulous score for “The Lord of the Rings”, and that is high praise! I hope to hear more of Robert Duncan’s compositions in the future. I’m a fan.

I had heard that the series finale of Buffy was very divisive, that some fans absolutely HATED it. Before watching “ Chosen ”, I guessed that it had to do with some character deaths, or about the destruction of Sunnydale. (Yeah, that’s one of the major plot points that got spoiled ages ago.) My first time watching the finale, I failed to notice Willow running out of the school, and until the moment when everyone exited the bus, I thought maybe Willow had died. Wouldn’t THAT have sent the fans into an enraged snit, complete with torches and pitchforks, tar and feathers!

Regarding Spike’s heroic death, I used to think that only latter-day fans like myself would’ve been spoiled about it, because of Angel cast pictures that included Spike, and because Nikki’s book has a picture of Angel and Spike on the cover. So I knew that, no matter what happened to Spike in the Buffy finale, he was going to eventually show up in Los Angeles . THEN I learned that the stupid WB suits ruined it for everyone by loudly announcing that Spike was moving over to Angel in the next season. I’m sure it was an extremely rare first-run Buffy fan who went into the finale completely unspoiled about Spike’s fate. But can you IMAGINE the impact of seeing Spike disintegrate/burn up, believing that his death was final?! That would’ve been such a powerful, emotional moment, and the network boneheads robbed everyone of that. I am offended on behalf of all you first-run fans!

The Mutant Enemy monster looked out into the audience, as if in a farewell salute. That was very nice. “See ya, Monster!”

At the end of my first viewing of “ Chosen ”, I was pleased to realize that I could now listen to Joss Whedon’s commentary on it. Nothing is off limits now! There’s no more getting spoiled on anything in Buffy seasons 1-7. And eventually, after a break (Nikki isn’t the only one who wants/needs a break), it will be fun to listen to the DVD commentaries and watch all the Special Features. But the thing I’m most looking forward to is reading all of the spoilery comments that y’all have made this past year. When I do my own private rewatch, those comments will be most enlightening.

Here’s an afterthought, one we can file under Things That Don’t Matter Anymore. Back when we were discussing “Get It Done”, I mentioned how burying dead Potentials in the backyard could really backfire. No worries. ALL of Sunnydale’s backyards were completely obliterated when Sunnydale became a gaping crater.

This week in Angel news, we have Lilah as the mysterious and very surprising “messenger”. So, was she Ghost Lilah? Reanimated Lilah? Or (my favorite), Nearly Headless Lilah? Thankfully, Tim Minear knew the fans would be scratching their heads over that one, and he addressed it with full writerly authority in the episode commentary. She’s not “back from the dead”. She’s just “back”. Good, I’m glad we got that cleared up. :/

Technically, I shouldn’t have listened to the commentary on “Home”. There’s a whole ‘nother season of Angel to go! (Duh.) The freedom I was feeling about having open access to all things Buffy accidentally spilled over into the Angel corner of my brain. So, it was an Oops! on my part. But fortunately, there were no shocking revelations about S5. Just a few things I had mostly figured out on my own.

Fred: “We ended a nefarious global domination scheme. Not world peace. [long beat] Right?”

The snappy chorus of “Good morning, Mr. Angel” at Wolfram & Hart reminded me very much of “Trading Places”. Remember at Duke & Duke? First we had, “Good morning, Mr. Winthorp”, and later, “Mr. Valentine”. (I love the classics!)

This was the moment. With the appearance of the shiny amulet and the file on Sunnydale, I realized that I was watching these final episodes in the wrong order.

I liked that Wesley tried to release Lilah from her Standard Perpetuity Clause. A very convincing sign that he really, truly loved her. (I was dead wrong, several weeks ago, when I theorized that Wesley was only getting close to Lilah because he was a spy, after secret info or forbidden access.) And Lilah was so right: “It means something that you tried.”

I’m left with several questions at the end of Angel S4. First, what was the meaning of Gunn’s encounter with the beautiful black panther? (Then I said to myself, said I: “Whoa! Back in his gang days, was he a Black Panther?!”) The episode commentary was most informative. Tim Minear said, without spoiling, that more interesting stuff happened to Gunn on his tour of W&H, which we haven’t seen yet. We’ll find out about it in S5. Also, about the big, black kitty, they originally wanted a regular spotted leopard, but none were available. So they thought a black cat would look cool in the all-white room. And it most certainly did! (Didn’tcha love its great big FEET?) There was nothing political about it, however. Gunn was never a Black Panther.

Why did Connor decide to become a terrorist/hostage-taker? Was it despair over losing Jasmine? I mean, was that the last straw that finally pushed him over the edge?

Here’s another choice item from the commentary: Charisma Carpenter had just given birth, but she agreed to come in and lie on the floor for the scene in the sporting goods store. I knew she was pregnant, but not THAT pregnant!

What exactly happened in that white-flashy moment between Angel and Connor? It sure LOOKED like the fulfillment of the prophecy, “The father will kill the son.” According to the commentary, Angel struck a deal with Lilah, and there’s “some sort of blood magic going on.” OK. That’s sufficiently vague.

Seeing happy, well-adjusted, family-oriented, college-bound Connor at the end reminded me of the sideways world on LOST. That is to say, I did not understand it one bit. So, I relied on my fallback strategy: just go with it. Ours is not to question supernatural wheeling and dealing.

Fred’s exit line was a doozy: “Who’s Connor?” Hoooowee! I’ll bet that made a lot of fans mad! This was first shown the year before LOST came along to teach us the true meaning of freaky and mysterious.

Well, I’d better wrap this up. I hope x infinity that I will continue to see all of you lovely people around Nik at Niteland. I will certainly be here. And if you’re on Facebook, do look me up! I’ve already connected with many of you on Facebook, and we’re having such fun! My email address is

Grrr! Argh! ~ M


Missy said...

You were a joy to read every week :)

Suzanne said...

Marebabe, this was so much fun seeing your wonderful commentary highlighted as a blog post. You were a big part of my week each week this year since I could always count on reading a great starting comment after reading Nikki's post and the guest writer's post. I was surprised this week when I didn't see your name first in line on the comments page, but now I know why! What a nice surprise. Take care, and I look forward to your comments on Season 5 of Angel.

Marebabe said...

@Missy and Suzanne: Thanks so much! That means a lot to me. And I actually MIGHT have posted the first comment last night, but my wonderful husband invited me out to a nice dinner for two. You don’t turn down an offer like that! :)

Suzanne said...

You sure don't! I am glad you and your hubby had a good evening.

mythgirlnf said...

Love your comments!! :-)

Christina B said...

Mare-Like the others, I loved knowing that yours would be the first comment I'd see each week after Nikki posted.
You and I often saw things the same way when we watched...and it's been so much fun having another first-timer watch Angel 'with' me!

I can't wait to see what the next (and last) season has to bring...and I'm so glad you'll be alone for the ride!

Marebabe said...

Christina, it has been awesome and sensational getting to know you this year! And I am also psyched for the start of Angel S5. There have been so many stellar endorsements by the folks on here, I’m sure we’re going to love it. I might even fix a bowl of popcorn and watch 5.01 tonight!

Joan Crawford said...

Hooray for Marebabe!

Marebabe said...

@Joanie: Can we do The Wave? 1... 2... 3... GO!

You're a good cheerleader. :)

elrambo said...

Your comments added greatly to the fun of the Rewatch this year! Thanks for this final commentary!

Blam said...

I don't have time to do much more than echo the comments above, so, that and... Woo! Marebabe!

VW: MiniUma — Verne Troyer's ill-fated masquerade as John Travolta's leggy Pulp Fiction costar.