Thursday, June 30, 2011

Can I Ax You a Question??

I'm a big fan of Catherine Tate. She's a comic in the UK who had (has?) her own sketch comedy show, and I spent hours watching YouTube clips of her best sketches when I should have been writing books on Lost. About a month ago when I finally watched the season finale of The Office, I was so excited when she was one of the potential managers, and posted my glee on Facebook, saying how much I loved her as a comic.

But now, I'm beginning season 4 of Doctor Who (yes, I owe you guys a bunch of blogs on previous seasons and I hope to do those soon!) I realize that many DW fans must have been chuckling behind their hands at me, knowing something I didn't know... that she would eventually play the Doctor's companion! I was SO HAPPY and already I'm really enjoying her.

But of course, this also casts a new light on this particular sketch that I've watched about half a million times (mostly because I'm fascinated by Tennant's real accent) and that has always made me laugh, not knowing she'd ultimately be a big part of the show. (When this was filmed, she wasn't yet on DW, but I'm wondering if this pairing led to it.)

This is probably Tate's best known character, Lauren, a shit-disturber who's always driving her teachers crazy, always in the same way but tailoring her response to the teacher and the subject he or she is teaching. So watch when she takes on her new English teacher.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 26

4.16 Who Are You?
4.17 Superstar
4.18 Where the Wild Things Are

Read along in Bite Me!, pp. 235-239

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

1.16 The Ring (featuring the little brother of Dennis, the Beeper King)
1.17 Eternity
1.18 Five by Five (Part One)

Follow along in Once Bitten, pp. 136-142

Well, with this week’s episodes we officially reach the midpoint of the Buffy Rewatch! (And the year, for that matter.) Twenty-six weeks down, 26 to go. This isn’t one of my favourite weeks, although it opens with a great episode, the end of the two-parter that began last week. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s impression of Eliza Dushku being Faith acting as Buffy (did you follow that?) is a thing of beauty, especially that hilarious scene where Faith stands in front of the mirror and does her holier-than-thou Buffy mimickry, “Because it’s WRONG.” Then later, Eliza does her impression of Sarah Michelle Gellar when she goes to Giles’s house, “Giles, you’re inching. Stop inching!... What’s a stevedore?” This episode is at times funny and devastating, and is where many of the fans who still hated Faith at the end of season 3 really came around. Faith hasn’t had Buffy’s cushy life, and she let the power of Slayerhood get to her. As she beats her own body to a pulp, despising every contour of it, we finally see the real Faith. Her self-hatred will destroy her… unless she can find a forgiving soul who knows what she’s been through (you’ll have to follow her over to Angel to see the true conclusion of the Faith arc).

And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the super-hot Tara/Willow spell scene. That entire scene is incredible, and one of the best visual metaphors ever done on the show.

I’ve never been much of a fan of “Superstar” (I was kind of shocked at how much I hated it in Bite Me! when I went back and reread what I’d written) but this time around I didn’t dislike it as much as I had before. I still don’t love it (and I know many, many fans do, so I say all of this knowing full well that I’m definitely in the minority on hating this ep), but I was able to chuckle a bit more, especially knowing what this episode was foreshadowing. I think my main beef is that we last saw poor Jonathan as someone who’d had a rough time of it in high school and was driven to a brink, but Buffy was the only person who could really see what he was going through. I LOVE the scene in “The Prom” where he gave her the Class Protector award (I still can’t watch it without weeping) and this episode seemed to undermine that when we see that he owns it instead of her.

My feelings for “Where the Wild Things Are” didn’t change much. Whenever I think of this episode I think of Buffy and Riley, and honestly, I have to skip through scenes of them snogging. Really. I never used to… but I really have to now. Tracey Forbes, author of the infamous “Beer Bad” episode who redeemed herself with “Something Blue,” loses a few more points for this one only for one major reason: she always writes Buffy as acting completely unlike herself. Buffy is never Buffy in a Forbes script; it’s like Forbes has no idea who this character is supposed to be, so she gives her these out-of-character storylines every time. Thankfully, this is the last of the Forbes scripts.

However, while I hate that aspect of the episode, it still has that wonderful scene of Giles singing “Behind Blue Eyes,” a precursor to another episode coming up where we’ll see him singing a lot more.

As I’ve said, season 4 is my least-liked season, but on this rewatch I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed it. However, when the Initiative arc took hold and Adam was revealed I remembered why I didn’t like this season after all. Luckily, the next episode, “New Moon Rising,” will yet again show you why I adore this series. Prepare to have your hearts stomped on.

I have a big lineup of material for you again this week! First, our lovely Steve Halfyard talks about the music once again!

A Cheese Triangle: Buffy, Faith, Riley
This section of season four is musically interesting because Beck reuses a lot of season 3 material. I should have popped my head above the parapet last week to mention the use of lots of music from season 3 in “This Year's Girl”: the music from “Graduation Day: Part 2” that we hear in their shared coma dream reappears as Buffy and Faith make the bed at the start of “This Year's Girl”; and Faith climbs out of the grave in her dream-fight with Buffy to the “You killed me” music that we hear right at the end of “Graduation Day: Part 1” after Buffy has stabbed Faith – her fall and rise are framed by the same piece of music, half a season apart. There's also a new musical idea for Faith which we hear as she first wakes up and wanders through the hospital, a haunting four note fragment sung by a girl's voice, accompanied by an angular cello melody. It describes her disorientation, and it's simultaneously vulnerable (the youthful but rather lost-sounding voice) and a bit dysfunctional – the cello and voice don't seem to really be listening to each other, and it's all quite discordant.

In “Who are You?”, it's that angular cello melody that gets varied into a whole new thematic idea for Faith-as-Buffy as she battles with issues of identity and intimacy – the biggest working-through of that idea is the scene where she seduces Riley, juxtaposed with the equally intimate process of Willow and Tara working their spell: the theme starts off angular and awkward and transforms into something rather lovely and magical as those two sequences of events unfold. But then, having revisited musical ideas from season 3 for Faith's return to life, something very strange happens in “Where the Wild Things Are”. Firstly, as we see the house that is at the centre of the episode, the voice/ cello idea from when Faith woke up reappears again as voice and oboe, so connecting the dysfunctional, lost, vulnerable, badly behaved but sympathetic Faith with the children of the house (to whom all those descriptors equally apply); but then, in one of my biggest ever OMG moments, we get a complete cue from season 3's “Helpless”. The cue is the one we first heard as Buffy found out her dad wasn't taking her to the ice show for her birthday (the 'Fatherhood' theme) which was then followed by our first sight of the Psycho-like house in which she was supposed to be trapped to undergo her coming-of-age ritual fight to the death with a mad vampire after all her powers had been taken away from her (and the whole 'problematic parents' subtext of the episode, Buffy's bad father(s) and the mad vampire's mother-killing fixation).

In “Where the Wild Things Are”, we have a scary house full of angry spirits who have a problem with a mother figure, a house in which Buffy is trapped and may well die in because she’s pretty much disempowered, this time by the fact that she can’t stop having sex with Riley. Apart from that last bit, that all sounds pretty familiar – and so does the music Beck uses to introduce the scary house about 9 minutes into the episode: it's exactly the same “scary house” part of the cue from “Helpless”. The connection between the two houses is pretty straight forward and kind of cool: Beck reminds us in season 4 that we have been here before, that there are precise parallels between these two houses. What’s less straightforward but actually even more interesting is that the music that symbolises issues of fatherhood and trust in “Helpless” is also used in the preceding scene (at night in Riley's bedroom) and is used to score Riley. Why? one might well ask! Well, at this point Buffy is still pretty upset about the whole 'you slept with me and you couldn't tell I was Faith?' business, which got rather put on hold in “Superstar” (oh, those James Bond guitar chords and brass stabs!) so we have the element of betrayal of trust. But fatherhood? My word, doesn’t that potentially bring a whole new dimension to our understanding of what Buffy sees in him!

Thanks, Steve!

Next up is David Kociemba, who we previously saw in weeks 4 and 10. Take it away David!

Oh, Jonathan!

Obviously, “Superstar” attracts a lot of attention in the academic study of fandoms. In a way, all three of these episodes are Mutant Enemy’s tip of the cap to its fan culture, just like “The Wish” (B3.09) and “Doppelgangland” (B3.16) were. You have three classics of fanfic genres here: a body-switch episode, an alternate reality Marty Stu and the normal interest in people bonking, whether it be Willow/Tara’s exploration of the nether regions or Buffy/Riley’s!

In Fighting the Forces, Justine Larbalestier expresses some concern about this episode, in the context of talking about how this series rewards fan engagement and acknowledges fan culture as productive and a source of inspiration for Mutant Enemy. She observes that “Jonathan’s desires to be a Buffylike superhero and to be publicly recognized as such (an acknowledgment that Buffy, with the exception of ‘The Prom,’ does not receive) are embarrassing and come dangerously close to caricaturing the relationship of fans to the show.” This episode is part of Jonathan hitting rock bottom—his use of magic to rape the twins presages even darker moments later. In the past, I’ve agreed with Larbalastier, suggesting the writers use Jonathan as a catalyst for the viewer to engage in a searching and fearless exploration of how they use Buffy. By season six, the writers engage in some serious soul-searching themselves. What does fiction mean after 9/11? What’s a Giant Mayor Snake next to a real apocalypse? The writers use Jonathan, The Other Two and Buffy to figure out whether getting lost in a story means losing yourself and whether losing yourself in some stories can help you find a better self afterwards.

Larbalestier’s unstated worry is whether Jonathan needs to “Get a life!”, to cite the infamous SNL skit, and whether Mutant Enemy thinks all their fans need to as well. Yet, I don’t think many viewers watching “Superstar” feel that way about Jonathan. What makes Jonathan different from them is that we know him. He has a history. That makes him a character to be understood, not a harmful and largely inaccurate stereotype to be mocked.

Jonathan was first seen almost getting the life sucked out of him by the kiss of the “Inca Mummy Girl” (B2.04), although he was in the unaired half-hour production pilot. He returns to the screen next at the end of “Reptile Boy” (B2.05) fetching a cinnamon, chocolate, half-caf, nonfat cappuccino with extra foam for Cordelia, his date. (In “The Wish,” Harmony shows her usual lack of creativity by suggesting that he’d make a wonderful date for Cordelia after she’s dumped Xander for cheating with Willow. All he can do is look up from his Big Gulp with those wounded eyes.) Later, some “Bad Eggs” (B2.12) control his mind, setting him to do some recreational digging in the school basement. Xander accuses him of mistaking the school library for a Barnes & Noble bookstore in “Passion” (B2.17). “Go Fish” (B2.20) is the first time the villain within is suspected, when Willow accuses him of being behind the rash of swim team deaths after his wounded masculinity prevents him from showing any gratitude to Buffy for saving him from swimmers intent on drowning him. (He got his revenge by peeing in the pool.) Despite all of this contact with Buffy, does she remember his name the next time they meet, in “Dead Man’s Party” (B3.02)? No, she does not, calling him “you, by the dip.” Still, he helps defend the Summers manse from an attack by zombies moments later. His greed for the good things in life first manifests itself in “Homecoming” (B3.05). He pits Buffy and Cordelia against each other when they buy his vote for Homecoming Queen, garnering a tidy profit in cupcakes and cash. This legacy of small wounds to his psyche, which would drive him to even more drastic measures later, leads him to try to kill himself in “Earshot” (B3.18), only to be prevented from doing so by Buffy. Jonathan shocks both Buffy and the audience by delivering a speech at “The Prom” (B3.20) that thanks Buffy for all that she’s done to make this class have the lowest mortality rate in Sunnydale High’s history. He even has a date that slow dances with him—a fan who won an online contest. And when the Graduation Day battle is joined, he’s the one who hurls himself with a barbaric yawlp in the student’s charge towards The Mayor’s minions.

Jonathan’s us. Jonathan lost his way and looked for the easiest way to solve his hardest problems. This character—who grows from human scenery into something more complex than any of the roles he steals—has trouble imagining a new narrative to his own life. Don’t we all? Viewers shouldn’t see Jonathan in the same light as those Trekkers on SNL. We don’t know anything about them and there’s nothing to know.

And if Jonathan’s us, it’s very interesting that he can also be Joss Whedon. The first shot of Jonathan in “Superstar” shows him swiveling his desk chair around to face the camera—suave, smiling, and smug—to observe to Buffy, “It sounds like you can use my help.” The score quotes the James Bond theme, then segues into Nerf Herder’s series theme for the opening title sequence… into which Jonathan has inserted himself. These appropriations are few in number, but strategically chosen for maximum comic impact. He does Buffy’s kip-up, but stands wielding her crossbow. He’s bent over to disarm a bomb, while Xander had to have a zombie do it. He cocks his head and smiles, as so many of the characters do. The final crescendo references but does not duplicate the final shot of the opening title sequence in Angel. When Jonathan’s magic spell allows him to alter the opening montage, Whedon acknowledges his implicit presence in the narrative as narrator of the series. Whedon is a part of the series, so his creative efforts are just as subject to rewrite as the heroic efforts of his characters. SNL’s creators can’t see themselves in their subjects; Joss Whedon can and teaches us that empathy through his stories. Through Jonathan, and Faith, we learn to love the sinner and hate the sin. Even when the sinner is us.

Oh, Sarah! Oh, Eliza!

Cynthea’s post discusses the meaning of “Who Are You?” in some depth, so I’ll take pleasure in making a just a few informal observations. First, I absolutely love Faith’s arc here and its two crossover episodes in Angel. “Five by Five” and “Sanctuary” show the limitations of Buffy’s role as a righteous warrior of justice, which has little room for the complexities of how redemptions are actually nurtured. Faith’s the catalyst in seasons three and four for weaning viewers away from hero worship towards a richer understanding of Buffy and heroism. Faith’s recovery is different from Angel’s because she is the first villain to admit that her life had become unmanageable and to explicitly seek forgiveness. It was never as difficult to forgive Angel’s blood binge in season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as it was to do so with Faith’s murderous treachery and class resentments. The emotional hardship of actually embracing genuine outsiders becomes most apparent through Faith’s story. And you should see those two crossovers, as they are actually vital to understanding season seven. They also explain why producers thought Eliza Dushku merited a starring role in Tru Calling and Dollhouse.

But what’s interesting here is how complex the acting is. Sarah Michelle Gellar has to perform the role of Buffy plausibly enough to temporarily fool the other characters. She must slip in enough of Dushku’s techniques to signal the presence of Faith’s consciousness in Buffy’s body. Vocally, Gellar does this through a brassier voice contrasted with a higher pitched laugh, slightly longer pauses, and strategic mispronunciations. Physically, Gellar rolls her shoulders back, half-closes her eyes, purses her lips and makes active use of her hands and legs, especially while sitting. Gellar has to play a plausible Buffy using her own techniques, the role of Faith using Dushku’s techniques, and Faith’s understanding of Buffy by blurring both approaches. In addition, Gellar has to signal that Faith is beginning to understand and emulate Buffy through moments of genuine Buffyness prior to the scene in the church. Meanwhile, Dushku has to impersonate Gellar’s performance of Buffy. During Dushku’s scene with Giles, she opens her eyes wide and speeds up the delivery of her lines while varying her pacing to include hitches. Dushku largely eschews the expressive use of her body and hands, although she does push her hair back with her pinky and tilt her head.

And you know what? Both actresses are clearly commenting on their relationship on set while they’re doing this! In an interview with Jana Riess, Dushku mentions that “My relationship with Sarah was the same way, art imitating life in a way. We had a real chemistry that was similar to Buffy and Faith. [laughs] I was like, ‘Hey! This is fun! Let’s have some fun!’ And she’d say, ‘This is my job. This is work. There’s responsibility, and there are consequences. You can’t hook up with these hot guys! We work with them. You cannot hook up with our costars.’ It was a real dynamic we had, that just started to come out in the show.”

So now you know why Joss Whedon had Faith sleep with Riley. It had to have made Gellar nuts.

Thank you, David! And finally, Cynthea Masson, one of my cohorts in our Beer Bad battle, and previously seen here covering “Lie to Me” and “The Dark Age.”

“Who Are You?”—Rewatching the Self and Other
Cynthea Masson

Two of this week’s three episodes, “Who Are You?” (4.16) and “Where the Wild Things Are” (4.18), represent Buffy at its best and worst. An example of the best: Willow and Tara’s homoerotic “nether realm” spell in “Who Are You” emphasizes the intense sexual energy between these two witches. An example of the worst: Buffy and Riley’s enchanted heterosexcapades in “Where the Wild Things Are” confirm for me an absolute lack of genuine chemistry between the Slayer and her commando. (After all, the reason Buffy and Riley can’t keep their hands off each other is mystical interference. At least Willow and Tara are responsible for their own orgasmic magic.) I have little else to say about “Where the Wild Things Are” since I place it alongside “Beer Bad” as one of the worst Buffy episodes ever. So, let’s forego the literal and figurative sexual alliances of these episodes and discuss another type of relationship emphasized in “Who Are You?”—that of “self” and “other.”

This is not the first time we’ve witnessed self/other interplay in Buffy—we need only think back to “Dopplegangland” (3.16) when Willow and Vamp Willow temporarily co-exist in the same dimension or “A New Man” (4.12) when Giles is transformed into a Fyarl demon. The human “self” and the demon “other” are not necessarily polar opposites. Indeed, Buffy repeatedly asks us to consider the ways in which the self is recognizable in the other and, moreover, to recognize that a person’s conception of him/herself is considerably limited; as Adam says in “Superstar” (4.17), “Humans sense so little of what they carry inside.” We also repeatedly see that a person’s perspective on other people (and, by extension, our perspective on any given character) is limited; as Faith says (when she inhabits Buffy’s body in “Who Are You?”), “I guess you never really know someone until you’ve been inside their skin.”

When Buffy and Faith switch bodies, each self temporarily exists within the other. Initially, when Faith (as Buffy) strokes Buffy’s leg in the bathtub and then scrutinizes her face in the mirror, her fascination is limited to the physical experience of the exchange. Similarly, Buffy (as Faith) experiences the sheer physicality of being Faith when told by one of the Council thugs, “What you are, miss, is the package. I deliver the package. I don’t much care what’s inside.” We must ask here whether the assumption perpetrated by others that Faith is merely a physical package rather than an emotionally complex woman has contributed to her callous persona. Faith herself seems to believe that she is merely the body she inhabits; thus when she (as Buffy) sexually propositions Riley, she asks, “What do you want to do with this body?” Only after experiencing emotionally laden sexual intimacy with Riley does Faith (as Buffy) ask the titular question, “Who are you?” Arguably, this question represents a first attempt on Faith’s part to see beyond the body or beneath the physical surface. In this moment Faith disassociates herself from Buffy’s body, asking Riley, “What do you want from her?” Shortly thereafter, having apparently learned something about her self through living as the other, Faith begins to assume Buffy’s ethical role, to redefine her position in the world (“I am not a killer. I am the Slayer”), and to fight for what is right. She begins to understand the moral complexities of being the Slayer, recognizing that she has a choice to fight evil because it’s wrong rather than because she possesses the physical power to do so.

“Who Are You?” also plays with notions of selfhood through other characters. For example, Spike is reminded by Faith (as Buffy) that he is “William the Bloody with a chip in his head.” In other words, he is no longer the self he used to be or the self others knew him to be. But neither is William the Bloody the person he used to be prior to being sired as a vampire: William the “bloody awful” poet (“Fool for Love” 5.7). Positioning Spike as a continually evolving vampire/person/character is fundamental to the plot lines of upcoming seasons. Tara also provides a site at which to question the relationship between self and other when she acknowledges that none of the Scoobies know her: “They don’t even know I exist, right?” In response, Willow claims she wants to keep Tara for herself, but she must also recognize (and perhaps fear) that if the others knew Tara (or even knew of Tara) they might discover the extent of Willow’s relationship with her. One’s friends can reveal something about oneself.

Indeed, Faith (as Buffy) immediately recognizes the sexual connection between Willow and Tara, as she acknowledges rather crudely to Tara: “So, Willow’s not driving stick anymore.” Tara likewise immediately recognizes that Buffy (that is, Faith) is not herself: “A person’s energy has a flow, a unity. Buffy’s was—was fragmented. It grated, like something forced in where it doesn’t belong.” Notably, the episode suggests that a stranger may be better than a friend at recognizing subtleties about a person’s character—subtleties that exist beyond the limitations of familiar physical features and expected patterns of behaviour. Riley knows Buffy intimately, but only Tara recognizes the “other” within her; Buffy knows Willow very well, but only Faith recognizes the sexual relationship Willow shares with another woman. (Where does Buffy think Willow has been spending her nights?) In “Superstar” it is Buffy who recognizes that Jonathan is not the person (or people) he claims to be: “He just seems too perfect.” Both “Who Are You?” and “Superstar” imply that people are not necessarily what they appear to be and that each of us needs to be open to recognizing the other within the one (or self) we thought we knew.

Buffy Rewatch Week 26: Spoiler Forum

As always, here is where you can talk about Buffy and Angel without fear of spoiling the new watchers. Once again I remind you to please refrain from talking about the comics, as some of the people here (me included!) haven't quite finished them yet. Thanks!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Wanna Do Bad Things With You...

Just a quick reminder that tonight is the season 4 premiere of "True Blood" on HBO and HBO Canada, one of the many vampire shows that currently rock our televisions right now. While I thought season 3 was a little lacklustre, especially that whole fairy thing that happened at the end, I'm still very much looking forward to this new season. Especially for one particular thing...

That's right... the Tru Blood drink. Why, what did you think I meant?

Friday, June 24, 2011


Someone sent this video to me ages ago... probably about 10 years ago. I remember laughing and laughing and watching it CONSTANTLY. Along with Dog Judo, it's probably my favourite animated thing on the Interwebs. (This is the English band Elbow doing a jazzy version of Destiny's Child's "Independent Woman.")

Our family just got a new kitten, who pretty much looks exactly like the xylophone kitty in this. So I finally had to post it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Game of Thrones Ep 10: Fire & Blood

Here be dragons.

In what seems like no time at all, here we are at the end of the first season of HBO’s brilliant Game of Thrones. Not since Lost have I gotten so many emails and messages from people asking, “Where’s your post on this week’s episode?!” We’ve actually been posting on Wednesdays from the beginning (last week was an exception because Chris and I had an excited flurry of emails back and forth right after the episode and had it ready for Monday). And while I would have loved to have gotten it up earlier, I’ve been in Boston on holiday for the past few days, as my Facebook followers know, and as I posted there, we got back to Toronto on Monday night just after 9, raced to our house, calmly thanked my stepmom and dad for their help watching the kids for a few days, gave them gifts, waved goodbye, closed the door, and then ran like lunatics to the television and had the theme song running before we’d even brought the suitcase into the house.

Priorities, you see.

As always, I am joined by Christopher Lockett (who was dying for me to watch the episode and was counting down the minutes until I would so he could get going on this), who has read the book and has been explaining the adaptation from a readerly perspective all season, and who is simultaneously posting this over on his blog, where you can read a second round of comments. So, because of his extreme patience in the matter, I’ll turn it over to him for the first word.

Chris: Well, I am devastated. I don’t know what I am going to do next Sunday. I think I can however safely say, and I will say this very quietly and only once, WELL FUCKING DONE, HBO. So often is fantasy brought to either the big or small screen completely ruined in the process (I’m lookin’ at you, Earthsea!). Peter Jackson, happily, reversed that trend with the Lord of the Rings trilogy; and HBO has pulled off something magnificent with Game of Thrones.

(Quick TV geek digression for Nikki’s benefit, re: casting for the upcoming The Hobbit. Evangeline Lilly of Lost and Lee Pace of Pushing Daisies have both been cast? Are you kidding? ).

But back to GoT … where to even begin? I think I’ll begin with the huge pleasure I have had these past few days reading people’s Facebook status updates after watching the finale (the winner is my former student Ashley’s blog post . Incidentally, half the images from the episode I’m putting in this post are stolen from hers), and talking to people who have not read the books. SO MANY great moments from the novel translated beautifully into the episode: Robb being hailed as King in the North; Jon’s brothers of the Watch reciting the vow to him; the Lord Commander revealing he knew of Jon’s attempted flight (“Honor set you on the Kingsroad. And honor brought you back.” “My friends brought me back.” “I didn’t say it was your honor.”); Arya facing down the boys with Needle; Tyrion being sent to act as Hand; Sansa finding some steel in her spine; Daenerys killing the shell of Drogo; and of course DRAGONS.

Deep sigh. It was all done so well, with such a deft touch. I wondered, going into the episode, how they would begin. And that opening shot with the bloody sword, and Ser Illyn picking up Ned’s head to brandish before the crowd; Sansa fainting; and Yoren cutting Arya’s hair and his repeated insistence that she is now a boy. I had been concerned about Yoren when we first met him—he seemed so different from the novel’s depiction, a hearty and hail-and-well-met kind of fellow. But seeing Ned Stark executed took the good humour out of him, I think, and his tough love where Arya is concerned is much closer to what we see of him in the novel.

Of course, the question I want to ask you is about the last moments of the show, but we should probably save that for the end. So let’s begin a little more innocuously: I really, really hope that in season two they continue with the Littlefinger/Varys show. That conversation, like all their conversations over the course of the season, was an invention of the writers. I have quite come to love the way Baelish and Varys have these little mini-plays where they poke and prod each other and reflect on the nature of power and ambition. What do you think?

Nikki: While the ending of this episode, however surprising, seemed muted compared to last week’s jaw-dropper, this was a great finale that definitely set up many, many plot points for season 2.

Oh absolutely, the conversation between those two keeps you on your toes throughout. Listening to those two talk is like watching a chess match: you know at one point there’s going to be a trick, and one is going to topple, but you don’t know when that moment is coming, or which one will be victorious. Their wits are evenly matched, with Littlefinger lobbing an insult at Varys, who’s unhurt by it and lobs something back, and Littlefinger is equally unfazed by what Varys just said. Those two are fantastic, and the actors play it brilliantly.

I like that you said Sansa found steel in her spine, because that’s almost exactly what I exclaimed when she verbally spat in that little sniveling idiot’s face, when I said, “Yes! Sansa has a spine after all!” Of all the siblings, she truly is trapped right now. Moments after we saw her faint, we see her on the sidelines of the court, red-eyed and done up in her finery with her crazy halo hair matching Cersei’s, and I thought, she just can’t escape. These people are her worst enemies, and she’s still betrothed to that piece of shit. Cersei looks uncomfortable all the time now (for the little we saw her in the episode), and I LOVED that Sansa forced herself to look at her father’s face, and instead of recoiling, she found power in it. She didn’t do what Joffrey wanted her to do in this scene. At first when I saw her look down, I thought she would throw herself over the edge of that bridge, until she took a step forward. Damn the Hound for stopping her, although he was right to do so. I’m actually quite fascinated by the Hound, to be honest, and hope he plays a significant role in the next season.

I also enjoyed the scene where we find out the old fart (whose name escapes me) isn’t an old fart at all, but a spry man pretending to be old and decrepit. That scene was very amusing, but if he were able to be with Roxanne, she had to figure there’s SOME life in the old guy!

Arya making the long walk north pretending to be a boy – alongside Robert’s bastard son, no less – should provide some very interesting fodder for the next season. My first question to you is, does book 2 pick up immediately where book 1 left off?

Chris: Not exactly. The prologue of A Clash of Kings takes us to the island of Dragonstone, where we meet Stannis Baratheon for the first time. And then the first chapter of the novel proper is Arya walking north with Yoren and the rest of the Night’s Watch “recruits.”

And you are correct in assuming that Arya’s journey north is compelling and, as you say, excellent narrative fodder. I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I say that the journey ends up being, ah, more circuitous than was planned at the outset. ;-)

And the old fart whose name you’re forgetting is Grand Maester Pycelle … the scene was interesting, and a complete invention. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but I kind of liked it in the end … he is about as much of a schemer as Littlefinger and Varys, so it’s kind of cool that they’re establishing his dotage as just a façade. Which will be good for the next season—he and Tyrion have quite the showdown, heh.

Speaking of everyone’s favourite Halfling, what did you think of the interaction between Tywin and Tyrion? We know quite well at this point that Tyrion is one of the smartest (if not the smartest) character in the series … obviously his father sees in him some value, even as he despises him for his whoring and the sin of being a dwarf. Again, not giving anything away in saying that this sets up Tyrion’s principal plotline for season two—he takes his wildlings to King’s Landing, and has the unenviable task of trying to rein in Joffrey’s worst tendencies.

Nikki: That was a great scene, especially the look on Tyrion’s face when it slowly dawns on him that his father is complimenting him. I loved the line, “I took you for a stunted fool,” with Tyrion’s response, “Well, you were half right.” I cannot WAIT to see him try to be the Hand of THAT king.

How old is Joffrey meant to be when he becomes king, do you know? Is he about 15 or older than that? I couldn’t quite remember how old he was said to be at the beginning of the series.

But as the new king rises, it’s time to talk about the other king falling, and the death of Khal Drogo. What a devastating moment. It reminded me of a scene in a later season of Buffy (because of our ongoing Buffy Rewatch, I don’t want to give anything away), where someone wants to raise the dead and is warned that what you bring back might look like them, but it isn’t actually them. Daenerys asked for Drogo’s life, and she got it, but that’s not what she meant. I was on the verge of tears watching her begging her “sun and stars” to come back to her. I thought perhaps there would be a strange scene of the sun appearing to rise in the west and he’d come back to her, but it wasn’t meant to be.

And the very end was interesting, because early in the season, I can’t remember which episode, she places a dragon egg in the fire and picks it up, but it doesn’t hurt her hand. I remember saying to my husband, “Maybe the eggs are like popcorn and they’ll pop open and the dragons will jump out.” Of course, when Daenerys herself was walking toward the pyre that image was the LAST thing on my mind, and all I could think of is when Daenerys was told in last week’s episode that once Drogo was dead, she was nothing, but man, if that woman survives the pyre burning, they’ll be loathe to walk away from her! So when Ser Jorah walked up to her and she lifted her head, I thought that was the miracle. Until something popped up behind her and I thought, “Oh my GOD she spilled water on Gizmo and there’s a Gremlin behi— no, wait… OMG it’s a dragon.”

A freakin’ DRAGON.

Oh, take THAT, Joffrey!!!!!!

Chris: In the novel, Joffrey is thirteen. I think he’s supposed to be fifteen or so in the series.

What I love most about GRRM’s storytelling is how consistently he subverts your expectations. Ned is the hero? He’s going to escape to join Daenerys? NO! BAM! He’s dead. Drogo is going to cross the sea with Daenerys and reclaim her kingdom? NO! BAM! He’s dead. But then into those shocked spaces he instead advances less expected, and better plots … Dany seems to lose everything, but emerges from the fire with dragons. Ned is killed, but his son is crowned King of the North. Jon Snow finds himself in the vanguard of the only war that really matters.

And so on.

This final episode was really emotionally charged for me, and not just because I knew what was coming … the final bit with the dragon appearing over Daenerys’ shoulder was simply perfect, and I rewound and watched the last three minutes no fewer than half a dozen times. The emotional timbre of the scene was pitch-perfect, with Jorah’s shocked and amazed expression as he, and everyone around Dany, sinks to their knees to pledge themselves to her. That is the moment that she becomes a queen.

The death of Drogo, however, is genuinely heartbreaking, because of course he does not die at first. Seeing him as an empty husk is worse than seeing him fall in a fight; and the ambivalence we feel when Mirri Maz Duur unapologetically admits that she knew exactly what she was doing is emblematic of the way the series (and the novel) never panders or gives us clear-cut rights and wrongs. Drogo’s khalasar DID commit atrocities—they did take women to be raped, even in spite of Dany’s intervention, and enslave half a village and slaughter the other half. Of course Mirri Maz Duur didn’t want Drogo’s son to be born, and none of Daenerys’ best intentions can change the woman’s hatred of the Dothraki.

I also have to give props to Sophie Turner. Playing Sansa is something of a thankless role, as she had to be bratty and annoying for the better part of the season while everyone rhapsodized in reviews and online about Arya and Daenerys. A question that frequently came up among the n00bs was “Does Sansa ever get less annoying?” And the answer, of course, is a resounding yes. She has learned hard lessons, and the hatred on her face when she faces down Joffrey at the end makes up for all her previous simpering.

And as long as we’re on the topic of thankless roles, let’s not forget to give a shout-out to Jack Gleeson, whose excruciatingly hateful portrayal of Joffrey was brilliantly done—and spot on, as far as the novel goes. And unlike Sansa, he gets no redeeming moment … we end the season hating him even more than we did at its outset.

So there we are. Big sigh … Now we have to wait a year, or however long it’s going to take HBO to get season two together (pleasepleaseplease do not pull a year and a half hiatus, a la The Sopranos … it was bad enough waiting six years between books).

Take it home, Nikki!

Nikki: Wow, the last word on such a fantastic season. I didn’t say anything about the King of the North scene, but yes, that was amazing, and I loved the look of pride on Catelyn’s so recently anguished face, as well as her earlier promise to Jon that they will go to King’s Landing, find Sansa and Arya, and then kill all of the Lannisters (the women in this episode are SO strong). And while I hope Jaime Lannister gets beaned in the head by a few more boulders along the way, I found the scene between him and Catelyn to be intriguing when he simply tells her the truth when answering every one of her questions about Bran… all except that last “why?” of course.

I can’t wait for next season, and I plan to read the first book now to see for myself what the show was based on (but I’ll have the opposite experience of you, because my reading will be coloured by the way the TV characters are now in my head, whereas your viewing of the show was influenced by what you’d read). But the way they’ve left it, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to wait on reading the second book.

But the one thing that will hold me off from reading that second book is the chance to do this again with you. I want to extend a huge thank-you on behalf of myself and my readers for agreeing to do this every week with me, giving us your insight without spoiling what was to come (where else could we get the perspective of a GRRM fan and still have Ned’s death be an absolute shock?) and making this a much richer experience for all of us. I do hope we can do it again on the second season.

Until then, may the warm winds blow from the South, may the Dragon make her way to King’s Landing, may the King of the North prevail, and may Joffrey cut himself with a razor, trip and fall into a vat of peroxide, break both his legs on the way in, end up in a half-body cast, and have the inside of that cast invaded by fire ants.

Ah, I knew playing “Worst-Case Scenario” in public school would pay off some day…

See y’all in season 2!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 25: Spoiler Forum

So I was just in the basement doing laundry after my kids decided to be completely non-compliant and not go to sleep at all tonight (while hubby was out at a Sloan gig) and it suddenly occurred to me, "Uh... I don't think I posted a spoiler forum this week!" Oops, sorry guys! As always, here be the place where you can speak freely about Buffy and Angel (no comics comments, please).

On that topic, though, the final installment of Buffy Season 8 came out in trade paperback last week, and just got my copy, so I'm looking forward to diving in and finally finding out how that thing ended!

Buffy Rewatch Week 25

4.13 The I in Team
4.14 Goodbye Iowa
4.15 This Year’s Girl

This week we have two guests who have covered off this week’s episodes so thoroughly there isn’t really much for me to say, other than A) I snicker every time Buffy gets her pager, thinking of the 30 Rock Beeper King episode (to paraphrase Jack Donaghy, Hey Maggie Walsh, 1983 called and they want their technology back…) And also I love how even years later, fans love to talk about Buffy’s yummy sushi pajamas (which I STILL see selling in stores). There’s a Japanese restaurant in Toronto called Yumei Sushi, and I like to think they named it after her pajamas. Unlikely, but a gal can dream.

OK, first up this week we have Elizabeth Rambo, who I first met at Slayage in 2008 when she was a keynote speaker and staying with me at the gorgeous B&B next to the school. We immediately hit it off. She’s the author of Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television (2009), the brilliantly titled book that covers the last two seasons of the series (I won’t go into detail about why that title works on so many levels), which she edited with Lynne Y. Edwards and James B. South. She is an Associate Professor specializing in medieval English literature at Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC. Unofficially, she was a Buffy fan from the day “Welcome to the Hellmouth” premiered in 1997, and her academic involvement dates from the first international conference at the University of East Anglia in 2002. That paper, “Yeats’s Entropic Gyre and Season Six,” eventually found its way into Buffy Goes Dark. She slips Buffy and Firefly episodes into her first-year composition courses, and hopes one day to teach an entire course on Buffy. One of her two cats is named Xander. She reads Middle English really well.

As always, in the following essays if you see a strange white space, it's because I'm hiding spoilers. If this is a rewatch for you, highlight the blank areas and you'll see the words hidden in there. Take it away, Elizabeth!

Buffy Rewatch: 4.13 “The ‘I’ in Team” 4.14 “Goodbye Iowa” 4.15 “This Year’s Girl”
Elizabeth Rambo

“The ‘I’ in Team” and “Goodbye Iowa” could almost be considered a two-part episode. Together, they mark the point in season 4’s where the narrative arc turns from what has been called the “little bad”--the Initiative and Maggie Walsh--to the season’s real “big bad,” the cyborg Adam, a product of the Initiative. (The pattern of Buffy seasons with minor & major villains is described in The Buffy Formula, which contains major spoilers for this and future seasons.) We were set up to think Buffy’s opponents were the mysterious Initiative commandoes and “evil bitch monster of death” professor Walsh. Now it turns out there’s something much worse than either.

Themes of season four include friendships, relationships, insider/outsider status—teams, in other words. In seasons 1-3, Buffy and her friends have formed a strong bond, but college is testing those connections in various ways. In 4.4 “Fear Itself,” the Scoobies revealed their individual concerns about their connections with each other. “Pangs” reflected on the history of race and cultural competitions, and showed former team-member Angel literally on the outside looking in, even while he still fought to help Buffy. Giles has been at loose ends without a regular job or any regular duties as Buffy’s Watcher, culminating in his literal demonization and near-slaying in 4.12 “A New Man.” The Initiative’s chip in Spike’s head makes him ineffective as a vampire, but hasn’t changed his fundamentally evil perspective, although discovering that he can kill demons makes him willing to cooperate with the Scoobies, when it suits him. Anya, former vengeance demon, still doesn’t know exactly how to “play the game” of being human, as revealed by her part in the three-handed poker scene that opens 4.13 “The I in Team.” Meanwhile, Xander and Willow muse on Buffy’s preoccupation with her “spanking new boyfriend,” and his Initiative associates.

Let me state at this point that though season four is not my favorite, I volunteered for these episodes because I’ve come to appreciate Riley more since I first watched this season when it originally aired in 1999-2000. In “Goodbye Iowa,” Anya says, “You know, you really should get yourself a boring boyfriend….

BUFFY: That was the idea. Riley was supposed to be Mr. Joe Guy. We were gonna do dumb things like hold hands through the daisies going "tra la la."
WILLOW: Poor Buffy. Your life resists all things average.

I’m sure Team Angel and Team Spike will shout me down, but Buffy does deserve a “boring” “Mr. Joe Guy” boyfriend who’s also willing to stand up to her in a fight (physical or verbal), makes love without reservations or losing his soul, and wants to join her in fighting evil—a real partner. Riley so could have been the guy, as we’ll see in a few scenes. Who could have anticipated—oh, right—Joss Whedon is writing this show.

Back to the episode: the Scoobies still don’t know “what exactly are [the commandoes] up to,” but we see Buffy discovering that she’s not alone in fighting demons, and Riley sure that everyone loves her as much as he does (they don’t), while Willow, Buffy’s best friend, is not getting any satisfaction (“Everyone’s getting spanked but me”). Note the erotic tone & framing of Riley & Buffy’s exchange: “You don’t have to do this …I mean, if you’d rather wait” “I’m ready, I want to”—and he initiates her into--the Initiative.

Spike tells Giles “we’re through”—that always works well.

Weapons training is old-hat for Buffy, even if these are high-tech weapons. And she’s issued a pager. Buffy’s comment, “I’ve been thinking about getting one of these,” seems odd, since she had a pager in season one, as evidenced in the oft-quoted line, “If the apocalypse comes, beep me!” (1.4 “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date”), but the role of technology in Sunnydale is vexed. With very few exceptions, only villains use high-tech communication devices. The Scoobies are restricted to land-lines.

Willow & Tara’s friendship is developing. Tara, despite her shyness, is clearly more involved already than Willow, offering her a family heirloom crystal as a present. Willow is just pleased to have a friend who shares her interest in magic—but the “magic as eros/intimacy” metaphor is quite clear. If you’re not getting it now, you certainly will by the end of the season, in Xander’s “Restless” dream.

In one of many scenes of dramatic irony in these episodes, Walsh and Angleman assess Buffy as “unpredictable” and “an unnecessary risk” as they review the progress of mystery experiment 314.

Xander introduces Anya to capitalism with his nutrition bar sales venture. By season six, she will be capitalism’s biggest fan and an ambitious entrepreneur herself.

The meeting at the Bronze was supposed to be “just the Scooby core”—insiders only. Willow, having told Tara not to come, clearly resents Buffy’s casual introduction of her new “backup” buddies, Riley and the Initiative. But Buffy’s persistent questions at the Initiative briefing that follows spotlight her as “The ‘I’ in Team.” She is used to being the “chosen one,” and has never obeyed an order without knowing why. In addition, the Initiative scientists’ view of demons as pure, unmotivated destructive beings contrasts with Buffy’s approach, learned from Giles, of seeing them as creatures who, while opposing humanity, are similar to us in having meaningful thought and motivations.

The conflict that follows is intercut to recall the connection between violence and sex noted by Faith (“Isn't it crazy how slayin' just always makes you hungry and horny?” (3.3 “Faith, Hope, and Trick”). In season 3, all Buffy could think about in response to this was how Angel lost his soul, now she can indulge in sex without consequences—or so it seems, until the audience is made aware that Riley’s bed is under surveillance by Professor Walsh. “Raise your hand if—ew!” (You may not believe it, but I have a Ph.D.)

I admit that I like how Spike’s “no time for layabouts!” line segues to Buffy laying about & waking up in Riley’s bed—alone again?—no, Riley’s there all right. They discuss his military training, he doesn’t ask questions, she does. And to remind us they’re being monitored, as soon as Buffy asks about 314, the phone rings.

Riley’s world of black-and-white, unquestioned certainties begins falling apart when he sees his mentor Maggie Walsh lying to him about Buffy’s death. Buffy rejoins her team, telling the Scoobies, “It’s not safe for any of us.”

Buffy has told Maggie, “You really don’t know what a Slayer is.” Maggie, musing on her plans for 314, says Buffy “has no idea who she’s dealing with.” And STAB by a monster who calls her “Mommy.” Now we really have no idea who we’re dealing with!

4.14 “Goodbye Iowa,” then, is mostly about Riley’s certain world crumbling to bits. The teaser picks up with Buffy telling the Scoobies how Maggie tried to get her killed. Spike says she has “tragic taste in men” and tries to implicate Riley. That won’t fly, but returns to the theme of questioning loyalties: who can you trust? When Riley finds them, he’s sure that Maggie made a mistake, until he sees “Hostile 17” (Spike), and his world cracks again.

Adam’s encounter with the boy, as someone, probably more than one, has commented (sorry, I’m working fast & haven’t time to look it up), is an homage to the classic Frankenstein movie scene of the monster meeting a little girl; this time, the results are pure horror, but thankfully off-screen, since it was 8 PM on WB in 1999, not HBO (don’t get me started).

Comedy in Xander’s basement culminates in Buffy’s inspirational speech, ending with, “That probably would have sounded more commanding if I wasn't wearing my yummy sushi pajamas.” There’s still a sense of irony about this kind of thing here in season 4; in season 7, Buffy’s inspirational speeches will lose ironic self-awareness and become less amusing.

Riley’s last anchor goes when he discovers that Walsh is dead. Forrest implicates Buffy (playing Spike’s role of setting the two against each other). There’s conflict between Riley’s team now and the chain of command, as Angleman tells them to stay put, but Riley insists they hunt the demon he’s sure is responsible. In this scene, Riley is already starting to scratch at his right hand, the first physical symptom of withdrawal from his super-drug-“vitamin” withdrawal. Resisting orders is probably another symptom, along with growing paranoia.

The first time I watched this episode I found Tara’s sabotage of the Thespia demon-finding spell fairly baffling. The obvious conclusion was that Tara might be a demon herself, or have some reason for wanting something demonic to remain hidden. Not until season five and “Family” would we learn that Tara only believes she’s demonic, thanks to her family’s abusive mythology.

Riley’s withdrawal/breakdown continues as he follows Buffy to Willy’s bar. Hard to believe the Initiative never found it, or maybe they did, and Riley just can’t figure out why the Slayer would be here. He’s not thinking clearly, of course. By the time she gets him back to Xander’s, his certainties are gone: “Maybe I’m the bad guy…” Buffy gets to be the caregiver, for a change.

Anya’s concern about Xander’s connection with Buffy—“No Xander! Not in a boyfriend way, or a lead him to a certain death way!”—will be a recurring theme. Once Anya has made up her mind, she doesn’t change easily. However, the idea that Buffy and Xander are sufficiently disguised by a bun & glasses, a labcoat and clipboard, and a military vest is just ridiculous. Nevermind, I’m sufficiently amused by Xander’s adulation for the Initiative installation: “I totally get it. Can I have sex with Riley too?” and then, to reinstate his het-cred, he tries to hide by making out with Buffy. Cute.

Spike’s anti-demon skills have their consequences; he has left the Scooby “team,” and now finds that he is unacceptable to demons as well.

Adam reveals himself in the Initiative, a demon/man/machine cyborg who “knows what I am, but not who I am.” That’ll teach the scientists the perils of materialism, I suppose. He says Maggie was also Riley’s “mother,” making them “brothers” for whom she had a plan. If you weren’t completely freaked out when Adam called Maggie “Mommy” as he stabbed her at the end of “The ‘I’ in Team,” you might have recalled Riley’s team being paged in the Bronze, and Riley telling them, “Mother needs us.” Yikes. Turns out it wasn’t just a military code!

Nevertheless, Riley insists he has choices, but Adam’s attack effectively removes them. Buffy and Riley are separated, “Everything he’s ever believed in has been taken away…he has nothing to hold on to.” Cut to Riley in the military hospital, clutching Buffy’s scarf, still wrapped around his scratched hand (unrealistic, but let it go). Compare this with the exchange between Angelus and Buffy in 2.22 “Becoming, Part 2”:

ANGELUS: Now that's everything, huh? No weapons... No friends... No hope. Take all that away... and what's left?

For the moment, at least, Buffy is Riley’s only weapon, friend, hope. And some people say there’s no religion in the Buffyverse! Also, I have to hand it to Riley for trying really hard to do what’s right—with all the cards stacked against him. His super-strength, even if no match for Buffy, is artificial. His admired mentor was a liar who, despite her mixed motives, used him as an experimental guinea-pig. His demon-fighting girlfriend also hangs out with demons—how? The more I think about it, the more I admire him. For now, at least.

4.15 “This Year’s Girl” really is the first half of a two-parter, and it’s really unfair to have one person tackle part one while someone else finishes up, especially when they get my favorite scene(s). However, one challenge of this episode is maintaining narrative threads of the newly revealed big-bad Adam threat, while tying up a loose end from season 3, rogue slayer Faith in a coma. We saw the Slayer’s prophetic dreams fairly regularly in previous seasons, and but Buffy hasn’t been dreaming much in season 4. We haven’t seen Faith’s slayer-dreams since she and Buffy dreamed together in 3.22 “Graduation Day, Part 2,” but apparently Faith has been dreaming about Buffy, her nemesis. She says Buffy has forgotten her (forgetting will be a recurring theme in this episode) “with little six coming…so much to do before she gets here.” We can read Faith as Buffy’s sister; we can also see this line as a foreshadowing of Dawn. In Faith’s dreams, season three’s villainous Mayor is a warm, nurturing father-figure, whose snake-demon nature is harmless as a garter snake, while Buffy stabs her repeatedly.

The insider/outsider themes of “The ‘I’ in Team” reappear as no one notices Xander getting zapped by the Initiative weapon he’s trying to repair—just as he feared in “Fear Itself.” Willow wears a really hideous hat throughout most of the episode—why? Forrest tells Riley the Initiative is a “family,” but Riley is no longer willing to be part of it. Faith, the outsider, gets most of the information she needs about the Scoobies by eavesdropping through Giles’s window—as both the Chumash spirit and Angel do in “Pangs.” Buffy is willing to give Faith the benefit of doubt, but when they meet, Faith starts the fight—note that Faith and Buffy are dressed very similarly in this scene; in fact, Buffy is wearing the black leather usually associated with Faith.

Other than reminding us of Willow & Tara’s developing relationship (Willow takes off the wretched hat, maybe to impress Tara?), this scene mainly reminds us of Faith’s catchphrase, “Five by five.”

Other people who forget or have been forgotten, besides Faith-in-a-coma:
Joyce, who hasn’t been seen since 4.4 “Fear Itself,” when she altered Buffy’s Little Red Riding Hood costume.
Spike, who tells Giles and Xander “Can't any one of your damn little Scooby club at least try to remember that I hate you all? Just because I can't do the damage myself doesn't stop me from aiming a loose cannon your way.” According to writer Doug Petrie’s commentary, there was already a large contingent of Spike fans who wanted to see the Buffy/Spike scenario of “Something Blue” written into series reality.
The Watchers’ Council, rejected by Giles and Buffy in season 3, have been secretly watching Faith all along, and now they’re back: “Hello, Rupert.”

At the end of the episode-concluding Buffy/Faith fight, Buffy looks way too pleased about Faith’s defeat—Buffy is not a smirker—and of course, when she pronounces herself to be “five by five,” after stomping the Mayor’s infernal device, we know something’s up.

Thank you, Elizabeth!

Next up is Lorna Jowett. I also met her at Slayage in 2008, and had been reading her work on Buffy before the conference so I was already aware of her. She was a keynote at Slayage in 2010 (an address I sadly missed, not only because I would have loved to have heard what she had to say, but HOW she said it in that amazing Scottish brogue of hers). Lorna is a Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of Northampton, UK, where she teaches some of her favourite things, including horror, science fiction, and television, sometimes all at once. Her book, Sex and the Slayer: A Gender Studies Primer for the Buffy Fan, was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2005, and she is on the editorial board of Slayage: the Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. Recent and forthcoming publications include work on shows such as Angel, Pushing Daisies, Heroes, The Shield and Supernatural. She is currently co-writing with Stacey Abbott a book on TV Horror.

“you really don’t know what a Slayer is”
Lorna Jowett

These episodes are memorable for several reasons, among them Buffy’s Yummy Sushi pyjamas, the return of Willy, and Anya on spanking. Plus, if you love to hate Riley, sit back and watch him suffer as events prove that he’s not as bright as he should be for a graduate teaching assistant.

I agree with Nikki’s comments at the start of this season: it seems more episodic than serial compared with other seasons, partly because it’s a transition for the show and the characters. There is a season arc here, though, and personally I love season 4 because of the Initiative, which helps structure the arc. As these episodes fall around the mid-point they are important to the overall structure of the season. All three add twists to the ongoing story of Initiative; they also offer new revelations (we discover that Professor Walsh is evil) only to provide twists on those too (no sooner is her evil confirmed than she is killed by Adam). Admittedly, the Faith two-parter (concluding in next week’s “Who Are You?”) functions as a self-contained story, apparently interrupting the ongoing arc, but it also contains narrative and thematic information vital to the season and to the ongoing series narrative.

Characters, too, are developed throughout these episodes and we see Willow and Tara’s relationship establishing itself and evolving at the same time as Buffy and Riley have sex and then face serious challenges to their relationship. Xander makes yet another attempt at gainful employment, while a chipped Spike has to remind everyone he’s still bad. In contrast, Giles seems to be recovering a sense of self following his crisis in “A New Man.” Throughout this season the post-High School teens are uncertain as they seek to establish new versions of themselves (“the big girl on campus thing’s really working for you,” Faith comments snidely to Buffy in “This Year’s Girl”). Adults Giles and Joyce have to adapt to new relationships with more independent young people. Body swap episodes like “This Year’s Girl” and “Who Are You?” literalise the fluidity of identity that is always apparent in Buffy. Adam, the closest the season gets to a Big Bad, is himself a literal assemblage of parts and he seeks, sometimes at tedious length, to find out who he is. At the conclusion of “The I in Team” Buffy tells Professor Walsh, “you really don’t know what a Slayer is,” but it gradually becomes apparent that she, the Scoobies, and the audience also have more to find out about the Slayer.

These episodes (and this season) address thematic areas found elsewhere in the show, such as teamwork and leadership. The militarised and hierarchical Initiative is contrasted with the personal interactions of the Scooby Gang, and Riley’s initially unquestioning obedience sets Buffy’s more autonomous approach in high relief. On gaining access to the Initiative, Buffy is “the I in team” of the episode’s title and soon realises that questions are “an Initiative faux pas, yes?” Her involvement with both Riley and the Initiative causes tension with the Scoobies, highlighted when she brings Riley and his team along to The Bronze for a Scoobies-only night out. Similarly, Riley’s involvement with Buffy irritates Forrest and his confrontations with Riley escalate across all three episodes and beyond, their spats oscillating between frat boy fall-outs and military insubordination. (Still, when the military take the ailing Riley at the close of “Goodbye Iowa”, Forrest says, “we take care of our own,” a line and an attitude that finds an uncanny echo in Angel’s “Damage”). Although Walsh fills the traditionally male roles of ruthless scientist and authoritarian leader, her “mothering” of Adam (and Riley) complicates this, and her rivalry with Buffy for Riley’s attention also refigures her as a jealous woman. Her desire to get rid of Buffy leads to a rift with Riley even before Walsh sets Buffy up to be killed, and her “son” Adam’s first act is to murder his creator. The tensions apparent in the Scooby Gang and the Initiative are increasingly exploited by Adam, who manipulates these weaknesses in the lead up to the season finale.

The Initiative’s reliance on science is integral to this contrast. Influences from James Bond to Frankenstein inflect the use of science and technology here and though some of the characters might be impressed by the toys for boys and the sheer scale of the Initiative (cue Xander: “I totally get it now. Can I have sex with Riley too?”), it is clear that this is bad, mad science. We have already seen the downside to reliance on technology in “Hush” when Riley fails the Initiative’s voice identification. Here science takes a sinister turn when it’s revealed that experiments are not just being conducted on “hostiles” but on loyal soldiers too. (Riley’s conflict of interest means that he misses his meds longer than others and suffers severe withdrawal. This addiction scenario returns for him personally in season 5 and resonates more generally throughout the series.) Another point this science versus the supernatural scenario makes clear is that human villains can be more damaging than anything from the demon world (as earlier the Mayor and later the Trio also demonstrate).

The activities of the Scoobies are consistently contrasted with the coldly clinical operations of the Initiative: one scene has Walsh describing the “the HST containment area,” then cuts to Willow and Tara talking spells (“The I in Team”). But distinctions between science and magic are not clear-cut. After all, underneath the technobabble, the Initiative is researching demons. Adam the “kinematically redundant biomechanical demonoid” (“Goodbye Iowa”) embodies several binary oppositions surrounding science. He is a product of both science and the demon world, and he engages in both (violent and bloody) action and reflection. Adam epitomises the masculinised technology and science of the Initiative and he uses invasive methods to further his knowledge, as when Buffy concludes that he is “studying biology” by dissecting his victims. At the end of the season his exaggerated masculinity and evil genius megalomania is pitted against the feminised, collective power of the Slayer and the Scoobies.

Both the treatment of science and the representation of different models of teamwork and leadership combine in one the show’s favourite issues: the “grey area” of morality that Riley confesses so daunts him (in “This Year’s Girl”). Buffy tells him that distinguishing right from wrong yourself is “a choice” and when he responds, “You make it sound so simple,” we know that, on this show, it never will be. The switch to Faith’s perspective in “This Year’s Girl” and the involvement of the Council, hinted at here and elaborated on later, uncover the dark side of both institutions and more personal identities, negotiate the Slayer’s dark side.

When Buffy and Riley have sex for the first time (“The I in Team”) the way their lovemaking is spliced into the fight with the Polgara demon, both shot in slow motion, reminds us of Faith’s previous comment that slaying makes her “hungry and horny” (“Faith, Hope and Trick”). The editing visually parallels sex and violence in a disturbing fashion. As a “feminist” action horror melodrama Buffy consistently explores conjunctions of sex and violence, already seen in various vampire characters, as well as in Faith. Now this touches Buffy directly and both her tangled relationship with Spike and the creation of the Slayer line are foreshadowed here.

The dream sequences of “This Year’s Girl” pave the way for the spectacular season finale “Restless” and other dream sequences, as well as foreshadowing Dawn’s appearance in season 5. While I’m a huge fan of body swap episodes, the shift to Faith’s perspective in these dreams is one reason I enjoy “This Year’s Girl” as much as “Who Are You?” Writer Doug Petrie notes on the DVD commentary that we “never see Buffy as the villain”—until now. In Faith’s dreams, she is happy and Buffy violently ends her hopes of togetherness (with Buffy and with the Mayor). The episode communicates her loneliness, often wordlessly. Her final moments with surrogate father, the Mayor, are deeply touching given these are two “villains.” Faith’s critique of “Better Than Thou Buffy” often rings true, something that makes her an even more effective shadow and never just the bad Slayer or psychotic killer. When Faith looks through the window at the togetherness the Scoobies share and she is excluded from, it echoes similar shots of Spike and Angel in “Pangs.” Both vampires are considered redeemable but Faith, considered a human, is more problematic. Her redemption is close at hand, though it has to happen in Angel, away from Buffy (and Buffy).

Thanks, Lorna!

Next week: The second half of the Faith two-parter, and a couple of episodes that are not my favourites, but many other fans adore them, so I hope you do, too!

4.16 Who Are You?
4.17 Superstar
4.18 Where the Wild Things Are

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 24

4.10 Hush
4.11 Doomed
4.12 A New Man

*Follow along with Bite Me, pp. 227-231

If you’re watching Angel, this week’s episodes are a little less devastating than last week’s, and are

1.10 Parting Gifts (featuring the arrival of my favourite “rogue demon hunter”... all together now, “what’s a rogue demon?”)
1.11 Somnambulist
1.12 Expecting

*Follow along with Once Bitten, pp. 124-129

This week’s trio begins with one of the best episodes of Buffy, “Hush.” If I had to choose three episodes that could be considered Joss’s masterpieces, in my opinion, they would be “Hush,” “The Body,” and “Once More, With Feeling.” As I said last week, if you were trying to get someone to watch Buffy who had never seen it, “Hush” is the perfect entry episode. You don’t really have to know much of the mythology of the series (though it makes the projector scene that much funnier) and instead just revel in the scariness of it (this is probably the scariest episode of the series... to this day I jump whenever Olivia looks out that window and the Gentleman floats right by) and the brilliance of what Joss Whedon, the master of dialogue, can do with a bit of silence.

The genius of “Hush” lies in the fact that even without the ability to communicate, the true personalities of each character comes through, especially in the projector scene. Giles is still longwinded; Xander’s a bit of a doofus; Anya couldn’t give a crap; Willow is the keener; Buffy only wants to find out how to kill the demon... and is worried about whether or not she looks fat. But when the ability to talk returns, they realize they have nothing to say.

“Doomed” returns us to the high school, showing that you can take the people out of high school, but some emotional scars stay forever. My favourite moment of this episode is the classic line, “I’m just an old frienda Xanderrrrrr’s.” (It’s the line many fans use to describe what James Marster’s real accent sounds like the first time they hear it.)

“A New Man” is a personal favourite episode of mine, featuring Giles as a Fyarl demon who feels “out of the loop-y” as Willow would put it. We get Giles referring to the horrible Maggie as a “fishwife” (and chasing her down the street, HAHAHAHA!); the scene of Spike and Giles in the Gilesmobile; and “you have but-face,” something that nearly every Buffy fan I know has said at one point.

The one thing my husband and I both noticed this time around, several years after we first saw these episodes, is that the only thing that truly dates them is the fact that in a world of texting and emailing, losing your voice – or becoming an unintelligible Fyarl demon – wouldn’t be much of a problem.

This week I’ll leave most of the talking to my guest bloggers. First up is Steve Halfyard, commenting on the glorious music of “Hush.”

It more or less goes without saying that the music is rather important in “Hush”, so I will more or less let it go without saying anything. Still, there are two moments that should not pass without comment. The first is the use of Danse Macabre, a bit of 19th century programme music by Saint-Saëns, which Giles chooses to accompany his utterly hilarious slide show on the overhead projector (has he never heard of Powerpoint? Of course not), which is also the first time we get to see his marvellously limited drawing skills (we have to wait till season 7 to see more). It's a lovely moment of musical intertextuality on two levels, as noted by my late and much missed colleague, Vanessa Knights, in her introduction to our co-edited book on music in Buffy. The surface level is that it was a piece of music written to describe the supernatural, and a really important piece in culturally establishing the sound of the violin as the sound of the devil, so it automatically evokes, for anyone who knows it, the idea of devilishness. But even if you don't, Danse Macabre has been so influential in how composers write musical supernatural devilishness in film music, particularly in supernatural comedies (think The Witches of Eastwick, Hocus Pocus , Death Becomes Her and Beetlejuice), that even without knowing the piece it evokes the idea of a supernatural horror-comedy. This helps make the scene even more comic, with the juxtaposition of an ostensibly serious topic accompanied by serious classical music, but with all kinds of memories of Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton lurking in the subliminal musical text. The other intertextual level is that Danse Macabre was used as the theme tune for a long running BBC TV show called Jonathan Creek, about magical mysteries bein solved by a male-female duo (read: Buffy and Riley?) and Anthony Head played Jonathan's employer, a professional magician, in the pilot in 1997. Whether that actually has any significance at all beyond cool insider information I do not know, and nor did Vanessa, but it was cute connection we both liked.

The other moment is twenty minutes in when Buffy and Riley meet on the street as the town falls apart around them: and there it is, their love theme, for the very first time. It more or less comes out of nowhere. There's a brief guitar riff at the end of “Something Blue” that pre-empts it a little, but the theme itself emerges suddenly and fully formed as they kiss, exactly (in fact) as the Angel love theme did. Buffy and her love themes seem intrinsically connected with her being prevented from speaking. Way back in “Surprise” in season 2, Angel kissed Buffy to stop her babbling, and that was the moment their theme first appeared in all its glory. Now, Buffy can't speak at all, and again we have a kiss that replaces words as we hear her fall in love. And that is essentially what both these themes represent the first time we hear them: a kiss may be just a kiss, but the music tells us that this is something more. This is love. And it's a lovely theme – Whedon and Christophe Beck described it as a more grown up theme than the Angel one – but actually it's a really sad melody. Poignant, yes; tender, yes: but honestly, there is something terribly sad in this theme. SPOILER: really, would anyone listening to this think this relationship was going to go the distance?

Thanks, Steve! And now the inimitable Evan Munday, who we last saw in the “Ted” week (as the guy who was super-pro-Ted) and he also appeared in our Love camp for the “Beer Bad” battle. This time I can actually tell you more about his upcoming YA book, The Dead Kid Detective Agency, which I just had the distinct pleasure of proofreading, and it’s amazing. I wish I’d had this heroine when I was a teenager! The book is available now for preorder, and I urge you to pick up a copy.

In the meantime, in addition to his brilliant observations and video-making (yes, there’s another video this week!) Evan is an accomplished illustrator, which he displays in his book, and please check out the beginning of his video to see some of the awesomeness of his work, in, shall we say, his own little homage to the “Hush” projector scene. Enjoy!

Fail Blog
Where Buffy the Vampire Slayer & the Myth of Sisyphus intersect
By Evan Munday

Obviously, the majority of my post will focus on 'Hush,' given it's one of the most compelling hours of television (period), but we'll get to that last. (Be patient.) All three episodes this week ('Hush,' 'Doomed,' and 'A New Man') speak to a similar theme that carries throughout Season 4 (or, as I like to call it, the first season of Buffy: The College Years).

Season 4 finds our favourite gang of vampire slayers and demon subduers (yea, even the story arc itself) lost and directionless, which parallels the motion of many individuals after high school. Season 4 is all about failure, about feeling like you're going nowhere, because for many people, first-year university is all about failure.

Buffy is feeling aimless and somehow hollow after the dissolution of her relationship with Angel and is unwilling to start things up with someone new (like Riley). Despite becoming a more powerful witch, Willow is still reeling from Oz's betrayal and departure. Xander is living in his parents' basement, working through a series of unfortunate jobs. Giles, no longer a watcher nor a librarian, feels useless, and Spike (thanks to the chip in his head) has become impotent as a vampire, unable to bite people (which is pretty much the main criterion for vampires). He resorts to self-staking attempts and dressing in smaller versions of Xander's clothes.

Is it any surprise that 'The Initiative' is the gang's nominal antagonist in Season 4? They're the very opposite of the somewhat purposeless Scoobies. They have direction (it's even in their name), all sorts of science guys, something called '314.' They're real go-getters who have set goals and work toward them.


Continuing that feeling of aimlessness, 'Doomed,' begins just seconds after 'Hush' ends, and the episode focuses on the failure and doomed nature of Buffy's love life. But love isn't the only thing that's doomed: the central characters are doomed to repeat high school (figuratively), to face the same threats over and over.

The earthquake that opens the episode parallels past threats. History is repeating itself. The earthquake, in addition to being a taste of things to come, also demonstrates that Riley is not nearly as good as Angel at 'sex-protecting.' For the uninitiated, 'sex-protecting' is when a male character protects a female character from impending harm by covering her with his body. David Boreanaz is a world-champion sex protector. You can witness him sex-protecting Emily Deschanel often on Bones. Marc Blucas doesn't even come close.)

As Giles uncovers the mysterious demons' plans -- opening the Hellmouth again -- things are literally repeating themselves. When Giles says, 'It's the end of the world.' Everyone else cries in disbelief, 'Again?!' Haven't they used this before? After Giles gets beat about the head again (how much brain damage does that former librarian have?), and the gang figures out their demonic plan, they have to return to their alma mater, old Sunnydale High, and again prevent the Hellmouth from opening. This is the first we've seen of the high school since graduation and the Mayor's fiery death, and the school has clearly been abandoned. Seemingly untouched since the ascension, the preserved state emphasizes the inescapability of high school. And that's not where the 'you can never escape high school' references end.

Spike, annoyed with Xander and Willow, brings up their high school fears of old ('Or you're just the same 10th grade losers you've always been and she's too much of a softie to cut you loose.') Earlier in the episode, Willow runs into Percy, the student athlete she tutored to graduation, who also brings up the spectre of Willow's painfully nerdy past, littered with happy-face backpacks and Blossom-esque hats. 'I like my women hot,' he tells his ladyfriend. 'Call me old-fashioned.' Whatever, Percy! Willow Rosenberg is white-hot with the power of a thousand suns!

'Doomed' refers to the feeling of aimless dread pervading our heroes at this point in the season: they keep fighting the same demons, uncovering the threats, their romantic relationships keep ending, they founder in adulthood. Everything does seem doomed.


- The Initiative calls demons 'Hostile Sub-Terrestrials' or HSTs (which has unintended comedic effect for those of us living and paying taxes in Canada)
- Morley Safer / 60 Minutes reference for the win!
- Does Riley have the worst pick-up lines in history, or what? 'I can feel my skin humming ... my hands, every inch of me!' Just berate her into dating you, Riley. You can do it.
- Spike's American accent ('Just an old pal a' Xander's') is pretty hilarious, especially given James Marsters is American. It's like when Dominic West does a fake British accent on The Wire.
- Why does Riley have a poster of 'balls' on his dorm wall? I'm just an average American guy who likes sports. What other kind of poster would I own?

A New Man

Though it begins with Buffy and Riley making out (gross, right?), this episode is all about how Giles has lost his way and how he comes to terms with that, by hour's end. Thinks of it as kind of a How Giles Got His Groove Back thing ... but with demon transformation.

Rupert Giles had always been planning guy: the guiding light to the team, the researcher and wise advisor, a surrogate father figure to the Chosen One. But in Season 4, he spends his days aimlessly, drinking tea in his courtyard, wearing continually less appealing clothing and having sex with random British visitors. (Whatever happened to Olivia anyway?) Professor Walsh is fast replacing him as Buffy's advisor, which troubles him to no end. So much so that he calls her amazing things like 'harridan' and 'fishwife!'

Giles, after being beaten to the punch by The Initiative again (and learning that no one's bothered to tell him about The Initiative), hits rock bottom (i.e. drinks with nemesis Ethan Rayne). We get to witness Anthony Stewart Head getting hammered, then wake up the next day as a demon. The resulting confusion and terror results in significant Mike-Holmes-level property damage (how much does Giles spend in home repairs?), and Giles finds himself unable to communicate with Buffy and friends about his state. Hilarity ensues.

However, the episode can't be written off as a standalone comedy showcase. There are undercurrents that mirror the entire season (and entire series). When Giles utters his Benjamin-J-Grimm-worthy line, 'I refuse to become a monster because I look like a monster,' it echoes throughout the show. Was this not the attitude of Angel? Or even the attitude of Xander and Willow, refusing to act like losers, even when everyone else believes they are? And, as mentioned earlier, Giles does get his groove back to some degree. The episode ends with a heartwarming reunion between the Slayer and her fake dad, and Giles has a renewed purpose and place in Buffy's life.


- Note how Riley and Buffy's conversation about the number of 'hostiles' they've slain mirrors that other 'number question' encountered in non-demon-slaying relationships. Does it really matter if you've 'slayed' 3 or 300? Or if you started 'slaying' at 15?
- Spike measuring the tomb in the graveyard is comic gold.
- Likewise, when Giles walk in on Ethan Rayne's evil monologue: hilarious. Anyone who's watched their fair share of genre television has waited for that to happen for years.
- From Riley Finn's Big Book of Horrible Romantic Sentiments: 'She is the truest soul I've ever known.

Hush (finally, the main event)

'Hush' perhaps most vividly represents this season's recurring them of failure, the feeling of being lost, as it focuses on the failure of language. The episode is all about people failing to communicate with language: Buffy and Riley can't communicate their feelings, Xander and Anya are having problems deciding what exactly their relationship is, Willow isn't communicating her emo-sized pain to the others. (Spike is the only one who seems to notice she's distressed.) It's only when their voices are taken that they really begin communicating.

'Hush' is also simultaneously one of the funniest and one of the scariest episodes of BtVS. The lack of dialogue makes for some truly inspired moments of silent comedy, but the Gentlemen are also one of the more terrifying monsters on the show. You can't scream as they glide toward you in their fine suits and cut out your hearts.

The episode opens with some clumsy foreshadowing about language in Buffy's Psych Class, then continues the grand tradition of Riley Finn delivering horrible romantic lines ('When I kiss you, it'll make the sun go down.'). They make out in front of class to demonstrate ... something ... (not unlike that recent incident at Northwestern University), but luckily it's all a dream! Or is it?

Buffy can't help remember the little ditty (straight out of Nightmare on Elm Street) sang by the girl in her dream. Given her track record with premonitions, it seems like it might be important. Riley shows up (IRL); he and Buffy are having trouble getting things together. Maybe it's his fashion sense, his patented only-bottom-button-buttoned-shirt look. Maybe it's that they're so wrong for each other. Who can say? (I can't help but think that Riley is the James Marsden of BtVS, sans the good looks and charm. Not a bad guy for Rachel McAdams or Lois Lane or Jean Grey to settle down with, but just missing that chemistry.)

Speaking of so wrong, is Anya wearing a backless sweater? Yes, she is. (I feel like I could devote an entire site to the fashions on this show. I mean, can we talk about how many long skirts appear in this season?) And she feels like Xander isn't treating her like a girlfriend (which he hasn't been). And Giles's 'orgasm friend' is in town. And Willow joins a university Wiccan group (been there; done that). A lot is happening.

In said Wiccan group, we're introduced to Tara Maclay, sporting a killer zig-zag part, looking constantly high and not unlike the lead singer of Soul Asylum (but in a good way). Later, we meet Giles's friend, Olivia, who gets Giles laid (sorry to be so crass) for the first time in the entire series (without the aid of band candy). So, kudos, Olivia. Because of said milestone, Spike gets moved to Xander's apartment, much to his chagrin. I also noted a great deal of Spike bondage this season. He's, like, always being tied up.

Once the characters' voices are stolen, the episode moves from humour (like Xander's phone call and Forrest's written 'C'mon, C'mon') to horror (the Gentelemen's appearance) even more seamlessly than this show usually does. It's helped by the addition of Olivia and Tara, who are newcomers, not yet jaded by demons and monsters. We're seeing this through their eyes, in many instances. And the Gentlemen's disturbing mannerisms and metal grills certainly help.

Soon we're onto the overhead projector exposition from Giles, which must rank in the top ten funniest scenes in television drama of all time, and the harrowing escape of Tara (also in a long skirt) from the Gentlemen. She runs from door to door, knocking madly for someone to help, but everyone is afraid to open the door. (Terrifying shades of Kitty Genovese here.) Only Willow has the courage to open the door and find Tara. (I can't remember my college days too well; do dorm rooms not have peep holes?)

Tara and Willow share a witchy moment later, by combining their powers to move a soda machine, which leads to an intense exchange later.

Willow: I'm definitely nothing special.
Tara: No, you are.

Yow. Keep it in your pants, Maclay!

Without language, the characters are all forced to communicate their feelings in other ways. Riley and Buffy kiss, kickstarting their relationship. Xander faux-rescues Anya from Spike, acting more like a boyfriend than usual. Secrets are revealed and the Gentlemen are defeated.


- Willow with the message board ('Hi Giles.')? Totally adorable. I nearly melted.
- I like how Buffy's all like 'How do I get my voice back? Because, I'm obviously the princess in the fairy tale, right?'

Finally, if there's one thing to be learned from BtVS, it's about the importance of friends. Even if you're the Chosen One, you can't do it all alone. So I invited all the Buffy fans (including one future Rewatch blogger) I knew over for a 'Hush' rewatch. This is (sort of) what happened: