Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 3 Spoiler Forum

1.7 Angel
1.8 I Robot, You Jane
1.9 The Puppet Show

Welcome to this week's spoiler forum! Rather than post the guest commentator column twice, I think it's easiest just to post it in the main section with the minor spoilers whited out (something I'll have to do less and less as the rewatch continues) and I'll just put some extra spoiler points below. That way people will be sure to read both posts, and then you can choose which forum you want to chat in.

Aside from everything mentioned above, I wanted to also mention the following points:

Spoilery bits:
• By season 6, “The Three” will take on a completely different – and totally wacky – meaning
• For anyone loving the Xander dance, wait for the brilliant Snoopy dance coming up, and the Angel dance in the first season of Angel
• Angel says his family was killed by vampires, and in season 3 of Angel, we’ll actually see just how evil he was (rivalled only by the goon he was when he was Liam, before he was turned)
• When I first saw this episode, Darla was just another recurring character who was dusted. But after she comes back in Angel and we see what she goes through there, her death is far more poignant and sad to me now. The writers couldn’t have known what Darla would have meant to Angel, so it’s a bit of a shame that he stares at her dust like it means nothing, when we know it would have been painful for him.
• Pateman mentioned this a bit in his essay, but this episode (and especially the next one, Nightmares) reminded me of Restless. There’s the show happening on stage, Giles is involved in the show and doing the circle the way he does in Restless, Willow has to get on stage despite her stage fright. Also, they do Oedipus and in “Restless” Xander will be drawn to Buffy’s mom.

Oh, and for anyone who's going to remind me that tomorrow is Buffy's birthday... don't worry, I have my own birthday post to put up for her! ;)


Lisa(until further notice) said...

Quick question, is the song that Cordy sings for the talent show the same one she sings later to Lorne on Angel, anyone? Feels so familiar.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

I also LOVE watching Xander and Cordy together in these earlier episodes...it makes their relationship later so much more surprising and almost unimaginable. It also shows how much Cordy changed by the time she got settled in L.A. on Angel.

I found "Puppet Show" to be quite creepy. I, like Buffy, get the heeves from them.

SenexMacDonald said...

Thanks again for a great write-up from both you, Nikki, and Matt. It was nice to read.

Not a lot of thoughts but here I go!

Re. Angel - I believe that for me, this ep is the first one that really shone for me the very first time I watched the series. I originally 'enjoyed' the first few - but have to admit I have new feelings for The Pack and a couple of other earlier eps.

Right, Angel. What can I say about Mr. Tall, and Not-So-Broody? This is the first time we can actually see the man/vamp we will come to love. I love the scene where he is literally left holding the bag ... er, I mean Joyce. How beautifully setup! Then Buffy steps through the door.

I did say I would keep this short, right?

Best forshadowing? Darla discussing her history with Angel - especially knowing that we
will really experience, via flashbacks, everything we hear here first. Then she is dusted and that is that until we see her again on ... wait for it ... Angel!

Okay - I, Robot! You, Jane!

Who of you, on first seeing the Demon, went - Wait, what is Skip doing here? Now I have been told that this particular Demon is NOT Skip - but I believe that to be incorrect. If it is not Skip, then this Demon looks a LOT like him in my opinion!

... and last but not least - Puppet Show. Hmmm, puppets - is there a (small) theme here somewhere?

Best bits:
Xander's look when Sid says "This is what I do, I hunt demons."
Sid has met a slayer in the 30s. So he knows what they are. Do you think that Slayer met Spike?
Love, love(!)Snyder. "I don't get it. what is it? Avante Garde?" LOL!!
Mark is the demon - and Xander saves Giles! And Sid is gone.

Is this the first (and only) time they did a bit after the show ended during the credits? I loved
that part!

The trio doing their presentation and Willow runs off stage in fright. Then we are left with the Buffy version of American Gothic with Buffy and Xander! hahaha!

What a great way to end that episode!

Can't wait for your thoughts... :)

Ronald Helfrich Jnr. said...
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Nikki Stafford said...

Lisa: It's EXACTLY what she sings then... I remember howling with laughter when I saw her do it on Angel because it made me think of Puppet Show and how gloriously awful she was. ;)

I agree about the Xander/Cordy thing! I should mention that in my spoiler post next week: watching it now, I think, how could I NOT have seen that one coming?! ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

Senex: I do believe it is the only time the show carries into the end credits. The only time it does so on Angel is also in the first season... and it may have also been in the ninth episode! Hm... I'd have to check that (anyone know which ep number "She" is?) but it's where David Boreanaz is doing his insane dance at the party. Awesome moment.

And we'll actually see Darla before Angel... when she appears in the 1756 flashback in Becoming as Angel's sire. I cannot WAIT to get to that episode!

Witness Aria said...

What a great write-up! (And I love your book.)

Rewatching these, I love Angel and am reimpressed with how closely the writers keep the continuity from this ep to the end of Angel. But I'm also appreciative of how much more depth his story gains later, which is only hinted at here.

I again only love Giles/Jenny and the "we're doomed" conversation from I Robot (though I also noticed just recently that Dave is Ash from Supernatural which is awesome).

As for Puppet Show, I'm coming to appreciate it more and more as I inure myself to the walking, talking, (annoyingly horny) doll cheese factor. Maybe I am the cheese now.

I love how Buffy is able to "get" Angel in their confrontation at the Bronze. I have a whole story in my head about Buffy's relationships/responsibilities with regards to re-ensouled vampires. I think you can see the beginning here of their special understanding.

Can't wait until next week!

PS: I'm so excited at the thought of watching Buffy season 2 again!

Lisa(until further notice) said...

@SenexMacDonald: No, it's not Skip, but I can't remember exactly what type of demon Skip was. But he was much "cuter" and funnier(at least at first). He was also more of a guard, or on security detail, working for others, not at all a true horrifying demon out of theology, like this one.

Nikki Stafford said...

Lisa: Skip the Wonder Demon will always be one of my faves (did you know the guy playing him is the one who played Pam's fiance in the first couple of seasons of The Office?) But you're right... Moloch is not Skip. Moloch almost looks more like The Beast from season 4 of Angel. (But it's not him, either...)

Lisa(until further notice) said...

@Nikki, "She" is episode 13 in Angel season one. Just got out my trusty guide, "Once Bitten" Who is the author of that awesome guide? ;) Love that dance Angel does too, I pull it up all the time on YouTube...Wesley dances it up in that episode as well. Hard to see either of them doing that dance as we know them initially here in Sunnydale.

Nikki Stafford said...

Witness Aria: Maybe I am the cheese now.

Do you wear the cheese, or does the cheese wear you?

Nikki Stafford said...

Lisa: LOL! You know, I really should just go and check my own books every once in a while! Haha! Yes, the Wesley dance is hilarious, too. Just another reason why I love Alexis Denisof.

Tat said...

As far as introductions go, the introduction of Snyder has to be pretty far up the list for me. His characterization is pretty much rock solid from day one (not everyone has to grow, and I'm glad Snyder doesn't). I especially love how he insinuates that Flutie's touchy-feely attitude was why he got eaten.

SenexMacDonald said...

@Nikki said: "And we'll actually see Darla before Angel... when she appears in the 1756 flashback in Becoming as Angel's sire. I cannot WAIT to get to that episode!"

I knew that - just liked the idea of it bookending that way. LOL

@Lisa(until further notice) said "@SenexMacDonald: No, it's not Skip, but I can't remember exactly what type of demon Skip was."

It must have been the horns. :)

Lisa(until further notice) said...

@Nikki...I had NO IDEA Alexis Denisof was not truly British. I think is accent is spot on. I was reading about him on Wikipedia and it said he was an American actor. Then I had to scour youtube to hear him speak as he does usually. It was truly interesting. Just like listening to James Marsters talk as himself and not Spike. BTW, I love your interview with Alexis in Once Bitten. He seemed like he was very generous and genuine. Kudos.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

@Tat: I agree with your opinion of Snyder. The way he is introduced here is really quite fabulous, as the viewer is almost led to believe that HE may be the demon they are looking for. Haha.

Nikki Stafford said...

Lisa: Alexis was LOVELY. Best part of the interview? At the very beginning when he said, "Alyson and I have Bite Me and we both enjoyed it very much." I could have died happy on the spot right there... but then I wouldn't have been able to interview him! ;) And yes, his accent is strange. I almost wish he'd speak exclusively in the English one, because when he speaks in the American one he sounds, as you say, like Spike saying, "I'm a friend of Xanderrrrrr's." ;)

Lisa(until further notice) said...

@Nikki...Haha. Did you get to sit down one on one with him or was it a phone interview? I think I truly would have died on the spot (especially if he was looking the the more roughed up Wesley from Lilah times). Wesley...sigh...

Anonymous said...

Things I thought of while I watched.

Giles comment that 'a vampire may have the movements, memories, even personality' but not being the person. Dollhouse seems to take a different tack, that one person can be downloaded into another. Not that I think Giles' opinion is always what Buffy (or Angel) present anyway.

Did Darla know about Angel's obsession with Buffy? Has she been keeping tabs on him? Is that why she wears a schoolgirl uniform? Or is it just helpful for attracting prey?

When Darla says that Angel is going to explode and Angel says that maybe she doesn't want to be there, it makes me think of Angel's fall in AtS season 2.

Angel kills his longtime love for Buffy as Spike offers to do to Dru in season five. Buffy obsession is very hard on exes.

In I Robot Moloch is sucked into the book much like Willow sucks the magic out of the books in season six.

It's no mystery that I'm for Buffy/Spike and Angel/Cordy. When Cordy sings she proves she's his perfect match. ;)

We should know the magician is evil. He's looking for his rabbit and bunnies aren't just cute like everybody supposes.

Really enjoying this rewatch. :)

Page48 said...

@lisa (re: Alexis Denisof): "Then I had to scour youtube to hear him speak as he does usually."

...or go back and watch "Dollhouse", which was the first time I heard AD without the English accent.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

Page48: Never saw Dollhouse. Is it still worth watching even though cancelled after two seasons?

Anonymous said...

The first time I heard Alexis' real accent was on a travel show he did with Alyson. It sounded like an American on helium.

I'm a little more used to it since Dollhouse.

He's in a movie with Alyson (Rip It Off) where he has a Russian accent. Yes, I have a collection of bad movies with Buffy actors.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

@redeem147. I too am a Buffy/Spike and Angel/Cordelia fan. Buffy took a little too long to give Spike a break, and Cordy and Angel beat around the bush for too long.

Witness Aria said...


I wore the cheese, but then I ate it. I like cheese. :)

Anonymous said...

Whether Dollhouse is worth watching depends on who you talk to, but if you're asking if it has an ending Lisa, yes.

Nikki Stafford said...

Witness: You've suddenly made me crave cheese. The processed kind, like in Restless. ;)

Lisa: I enjoyed Dollhouse, and it has some truly remarkable scenes. But the characters never grabbed me like they did in other Whedon shows. Is it worth watching? I think so. ;)

Re: accents: See, James Marsters' American accent sounds normal to me, but Denisof's doesn't (my friend Ian and I always mock him on Dollhouse, saying, 'Hello, Senaterrrrrrrrr.') I wonder if it's because he spent so many years in London that he actually picked up part of the British accent so it's now this weird amalgam?

Lisa: I had a phone conversation with Alexis. He was in England at the time, and Alyson was starring in When Harry Met Sally on the London stage (she was actually doing a performance when I talked to him). He called and told me he'd set aside the whole night to talk, even though I probably only had about 45 minute's worth of questions (I stretched them as much as I could!) ;) When I dialled his number, I was really hoping Aly would pick up, but he was waiting by the phone and grabbed it on the first ring. ;)

Page48 said...

Nikki's whited out comment from non-spoiler post: "And, in that great Buffy manner, almost the exact set-up is used 60 episodes later..."

This reminds me of a pair of mirror image scenes in "Alias". In the brilliant parking garage scene in "Truth Be Told", Jack pulls up in the sedan and tells Sydney to get in the car, surprising her as she points a gun at hiim.

In 2.12, the roles are reversed so that Sydney pulls up in the sedan in another parking garage and tells Jack to get in the car, surprising him as he points a gun at her.

I enjoy that sort of wink and nod to faithful viewers, but it took me a rewatch to pick up on it.

@Lisa: is "Dollhouse" worth watching? Well, by the time it got interesting, it was already canceled. But, if you enjoy the Whedonverse, it sported a number of very familiar faces, and for that alone, it's fun to take a look at.

Michael Holland said...

Thank you, Nikki and Mr. Pateman for wonderful comments, as always.

As Mr. Pateman states so well, "part of season 1’s story-telling appeal is clearly a result of this need to find visual depth from an unforgiving medium." He's talking specifically about the look of the show, Gershman's (and I whole-heartedly agree) brilliant use of the 16MM format. But a broader comment is the fact that budgetary restraints across the board force Whedon & Company to capitalize on the little $ they had to work with to tell a better story. And -- here here! -- they did all too well.

Also, re his astute, “Darla comes into Joyce’s house, bites her, places Joyce’s limp body in Angel’s grasp just as Buffy comes in … almost the exact set-up is used 60 episodes later but to wonderful comic effect as a staggeringly unlikely set of incidents lead Xander to believe that Spike has attacked Anya in 'Hush.'” To which I can’t help but be reminded that Connor will be purposefully meant to believe that Angel killed “his father” Holtz – simply the prong-prick of the eeeeeviiiiil Justine on 'ATS.'

Please take into consideration the remarkable by Marebabe, “Here’s an interesting thing. I get that 'I Robot' ranks pretty low on some people's list of favorite episodes. But I must say … [in rewatching] the opening minutes … so completely grabbed me, that I settled back, content to stay with the episode to see what happened next … no other 'Buffy' episode that I’ve seen so far had such a strong hook for me.” Story is indeed a difficult thing; always has been, especially in television – or any episodic storytelling - comics, series of films, though television is the best example. Putting out that much material on such short notice. Twenty-two episodes a season (then) with only eight-days prep, eight-days to shoot and roughly three weeks to finish (including Network “retouching”). That Whedon & Company – any great show – can do so year after year (and 'Buffy' went seven) – is indeed remarkable. (I’ll use this same argument when we get to 'Beer Bad,' but I foreshadow.)

PS, isn't there another 'Angel' "going into the credits" when he sings 'Mandy?' I'll say the Season 2 opener, but may be wrong; without popping in the DVD, I'm simply betting.)

Cheers all!

Michael Holland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Holland said...

As Nikki wrote, "I enjoyed 'Dollhouse,' and it has some truly remarkable scenes. But the characters never grabbed me like they did in other Whedon shows. Is it worth watching? I think so."

Please see my article on the show --


Cheers again ...

Ronald Helfrich Jnr. said...
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StarfuryBR said...

"Angel." I gotta say, I try and try and try without success to get into the Buffy/Angel relationship and the Angel-heavy episodes, and while I appreciate the mythology, and the idea of an ensouled vampire is fascinating, and I get that the stereotype-busting power dynamics of the relationship are interesting and important--I just can't bring myself to enjoy Bangel, at least until much later in the series (I don't really start to LIKE Angel until after he leaves Sunnydale). The Master is as campy as ever, the Anointed One is boring, and Darla, like her erstwhile lover, doesn't really get interesting until she arrives in LA. I re-watch this episode more out of a sense of duty to its importance in the overall mythology of the Buffyverse, than out of any real attachment to it for its own sake.

I never understood why so many people seem to regard “I Robot/You Jane” as a weak episode. For my money, it's one of the best of season 1. Sure, the plot is fairly obvious, and the characterization of geeks Fritz and Dave heavy-handed (but as a counterbalance, we have geek goddesses like Jenny and Willow). Sure, the dialog occasionally falls flat, as when Buffy quips that Moloch has “gone binary on us” (but on the other hand, we have every single word exchanged between Giles and Jenny). Sure, the technology is carbon-dated—but that's expected, and a little bit charming. And despite the now-laughably-obsolete equipment, the questions and concerns this episode raises about the perils and potential of technology are every bit as relevant—nay, more—than they were 14 years ago. A couple of years ago, I took a graduate seminar called “Embodiment and Space in the Digital Age.” Not only Giles' and Jenny's banter about books vs. computers, but especially Moloch's speech to Willow, and later to Buffy, about his experience since being released from the prison of his book, reminded me a great deal of our conversations in that course. Prescient, indeed!

Plus, we have nods to “2001: A Space Oddysey,” a demon cyborg (need I say more?), and Willow has a picture of her and Giles inside her locker (“Now I remember why I used to have such a crush on him,” she says after hearing him sing in Season 4's “Where the Wild Things Are.” I'm right there with ya, Will!)

I love “The Puppet Show,” for all the reasons others have already mentioned, though the horny dummy thing left me cold. As has often been noted, “Buffy” is quite conventional in its portrayal of young heroes who are cleverer and more effectual than the adults (often including Giles). But in this episode it becomes clear for the first time, from his immediate contempt toward Snyder and his appeal to the Scoobies for support, that Giles pretty much shares their sentiments regarding most other adults, and future episodes will only reinforce this dynamic. And really, who can blame them, when the combined IQ of Sunnydale's adult population appears to be roughly equivalent to that of a box of unsharpened No.2 pencils?

StarfuryBR said...
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StarfuryBR said...
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Anonymous said...

I couldn't decide whether this qualified as spoilery or not, but a theory has been floating around since at least 2002 (I found it on the All Things Philosophical on BtVS/AtS board) that Buffy 7th episodes, e.g. "Angel," are always extra-significant--reveal surprising information, carry the season's main theme, or both, sometimes more. In a 12/13 episode sequence, 7 is about halfway through, but it's interesting that the pattern seems to hold even in the 22-episode seasons.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

StarfuryBR, now that I am doing a rewatch, I too have difficulty getting into the Buffy/Angel relationship (knowing what I know is coming both in Sunnydale and LA), but I must admit that I was completely into it when I watched it for the first time (some 4 months ago).

Getting back to what I was saying before about American actors doing fine work convincing me they were actually British [Alexis Denisof, James Marsters (even Anthony Stewart Head does a different accent for Giles than his native accent)], I have to state here that David Boreanaz's accent as Liam from Ireland is TERRIBLE. Thank goodness all the Liam storyline stuff is so good (and I like David's acting skills) or it would be very difficult to watch indeed.

Ronald Helfrich Jnr. said...

Nikki: "I enjoyed 'Dollhouse,' and it has some truly remarkable scenes. But the characters never grabbed me like they did in other Whedon shows. Is it worth watching? I think so."Actually this is how I felt about Lost though for a different reason. Lost seems to me to be a Times or NY Times puzzle and I am not a huge fan of puzzles.

Dollhouse is a more cerebral show than Buffy, Angel, or Firefly (or Lost). It is Whedon's most Hitchcockian show yet. It is also, I think, I think, Whedon's most "radical" work to date.

In the 1960s and 1970s we used to talk about "bourgeois cinema" in Film Studies classes, the cinema grounded in bourgeois narrative forms and character types which mirror and replicate "bourgeois mentalities, lifestyles, and selves making them seem universal. In some ways Dollhouse undermines typical Hollywood or "bourgeois" character forms. The characters in Dollhouse are characters who are created by the corporation that runs the dollhouse, the Rossum Corporation (an echo of Karel ńĆapek's Rossum's Universal Robots) and rented out to elite clients. They are fragmented hybrid (human and cyborg) beings (a comment on the manufactured and fragmented lives of contemporary humans?). At the same time, however, Dollhouse brings the "bourgeois" character back in through the back door. Much of the narrative of the show is built around the tensions between the "real" personalities of these characters (the Enlightenment notion that we humans have individual consciousnesses and relatively consistent selves) and the ones foisted upon them by Rossum. Nevertheless, this character hybrid--fragmented and manufactured as well as"bourgeois"--makes identifying with particular characters in Dollhouse somewhat difficult if one is expecting your normal mainstream Hollywood television series with characters who may develop but are still the characters you grew to know, to love, and to hate.

Efthymia said...

I've tried to avoid spoilery comments so far, trying to comment as I would have having not watched the rest of the show, but this time it was a bit hard. "Angel" kept reminding me of future episodes. Buffy over her unconscious mother, trying to bring her to her senses and calling 911 is incredibly chilling having seen "The Body". Although I'm sure the similarity is coincidental and not one of the foreshadowings Joss Whedon so loves to do.
What I think may be a foreshadowing is Angel's reaction to the two kisses with Buffy. The first time they kiss his vampire face comes out and he growls, looking somewhat agressive, whereas when they kiss in the Bronze at the end of the episode, his face remains the same, and they seem to agree that it's "just painful". Could it be that we have just been shown that happiness (I'm assuming he was happy to be kissing with Buffy) can bring out the worst in Angel and that he is only safe when he is suffering?

"I Robot, You Jane" ends with Buffy saying "Let's face it: none of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal relationship." and Xander agreeing "We're doomed.", which is sadly quite true for the entire series; they have all had relationships who were happy at times, but none was normal, and none ended well. How sad...

Ronald Helfrich Jnr. said...

The end of "I Robot" is one of my favourite moments in all of Buffy because it foreshadows so much of what is to come in Buffy. You can often find this foreshadowing in so called stand alone episodes. The acting of this scene is superb, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I would say that Dollhouse is also Joss' most controversial series, with many women complaining about the misogyny. I'm not comfortable with something that seems to be making a comment on human trafficking and couching it in T&A. There's also the issue of lack of consent in sexual relationships with also bothers me.

I know many fans who are turned off anything Joss does now, which I find sad especially because many of them are friends of mine.

But I do have it all on DVD and am planning to rewatch the series. My favourite episodes are the last ones of each season.

Ronald Helfrich Jnr. said...

Dollhouse has, I think, been misunderstood by a lot of critics.

Dollhouse, I think, was intended to make viewers uncomfortable. There is, in my opinion, a significant Hitchcockian element, particularly the Hitchcock of Rear Window and Vertigo in the series. This Hitchcockianism is an attempt to force thoughtful viewers to reflect on the voyeurism and romantic mysogyny at the heart Dollhouse. We, the voyeruistic viewers, are meant to feel uncomfortable with men remaking women (and a bit of the vice versa) in their images. This is, to me, the point of the show.

This voyeurism and misognystic masculinism that wants to remake women in the male image merge with such typical Whedon themes as feminism, existentialism, social ethics, and family (in the broadest sense) in Dollhouse. All of these, along with the incredible sets and fine acting, make Dollhouse, I would argue, Whedon's most interesting if difficult work to date.

StarfuryBR said...

@Lisa, I agree about the accents. I love/hate spotting "fake" accents, and while I suspected that Marsters' was not real from the beginning (he got better), I never guessed that Denisof and Head were both "putting on" accents as well. Boreanaz as Liam, and, to a lesser extent, Juliet Landau as Dru, always makes me cringe.

@Efthymia, I've been trying to decide for years how to think/feel about that second kiss in "Angel," and the cross-shaped blister it leaves on his breastbone. I like your take on it.

Those last lines in IR/YJ are indeed more painfully funny in hindsight.

Ronald Helfrich Jnr. said...

Musings on Angel:

S&M: Darla telling Angel as he pushes her against the wall of his flat, “you’re hurting me, that’s good”. Buffy’s cross burning into Angel’s chest. All this is before Marti Noxon, who Whedon gives credit for the s&m of the second season.

Ronald Helfrich Jnr. said...

Musings on Angel:

Complicating Buffy’s Theodicy: Buffy is the slayer, the chosen one, who’s “calling” is to stand alone against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. For Xander (the Xander influenced once again by his jealousies, specifically his jealously of Angel) the issue is as clear as the difference between black and white, Buffy is the slayer, Angel is a vampire, Buffy has to kill Angel. But is Angel, as Buffy asks Giles, a “good vampire” or is Angel, as Giles puts it, not a person at all? After all, as Angel tells Buffy, he no longer has a “soul” or a “conscience”. Complicating the issue is the fact that Angel, while he may have lost his soul, hasn’t, since he arrived in America some “80” years ago, “fed” off of a human. Is this the first instance where the binary between good and evil begins to break down? Angel is a vampire but he is not “evil”.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

Ronald, there,s actually some question as to whether Angel was even telling the truth about not feeding off a human being since being re-souled. In an Angel episode on the show Angel (the one in which he is Angelus again and revisits moments from his past), he is actually shown feeding on a victim of a store robbery. In the Buffy episode "Angel", he specifically states he hasn't "fed on a living human being since." That store clerk was dead, and I take this to mean that Angel has, on occasion in the past, resorted to feeding off recently killed humans out of necessity. Angel of the present wants to avoid human blood altogether, sticking to pig blood and sometimes a little otter thrown in for variety.

I have, in this long diatribe, avoided the topic of evil. I believe Angelus to be evil, not Angel. But Liam wasn't a great guy to begin with, so it seems he is a better "person" as a vampire with a soul than he was as a live human with a soul.

Anonymous said...

Angel says that when he was turned into a vampire, he lost his soul (presumably it went where souls go after death...these questions always get more complicated if pursued too closely), but the gypsy curse restored it to him, so he currently does have a soul, unlike every other vampire in the Buffyverse. So far. That's why he feels remorse & stopped feeding off humans (mostly).

Ronald Helfrich Jnr. said...

Lisa. That episode of Angel, fourth season isn't it, really does complicate the issue of Angel/Angelus and evil. In general, I think both shows got less manichean as they went along.

Anonymous said...

One thing I noticed in Amends is that one of the men who the First appears as to Angel is wearing a fairly modern suit. So, is this a victim since Angel was souled, or one from his time in season two as Angelus (though the suit doesn't look THAT modern.)

Lisa(until further notice) said...

redeem147, awesome observation about the First and the guy in the suit. I'll look for it when we get back to that episode. I love the depth of speculation going on here...fun, and reminds me of the Lost rewatch days.

Charlotte Angel said...

Puppet Show - I hate Sid and his creepy small talk a lot. I loved Snyder, he's wonderfully creepy. I was trying to decide if he knows that Buffy is the slayer or is he just picking on her for the fun of it. I think he knows. Then, we have the ever popular brain cancer.

Okay, the really interesting thing about Puppet Show is the final scene where Willow, Xander and Buffy are acting out Oedipus (in three minutes - LOL). So I looked up the quotes. Am I a nerd or what? Willow plays the priest, Xander plays Oedipus and Buffy plays Jocasta (Oedipus's wife/mother and can I just say ew.)

Whedon cuts the Oedipus play into three stripped down speeches that stand in for the whole play.

First Willow does the priest speech - I suppose this could be a foreshadowing of her future interest in magic and also (when she runs out) that she will abandon her life long ‘devotion’ to Xander when she goes gay. That speech comes at the very beginning of the play. Here's a translation of the real speech.

PRIEST Oedipus, ruler of my native land,you see how people here of every age are crouching down around your altars,some fledglings barely strong enough to fly and others bent by age, with priests as well for I am priest of Zeus and these ones here,the pick of all our youth.

Then Xander (Alexander the Great playing King Oedipus) performs the speech where he finds out that he’s killed his father and slept with his mother and right before he blinds himself. Foreshadow his evil parents? and that he will one day be blinded. He forgets his line, provoking some Buffy eye rolling.

Oedipus kills the sphinx that is killing off Thebans with its riddle. Xander frequently figures out the “riddle” of how to defeat the bad guy.

OEDIPUS: Alas! Indeed, lady, why should any man pay due reverence to Apollo's shrine, where his prophet lives, or to those birds which scream out overhead? For they foretold that I was going to murder my own father. But now he's dead and lies beneath the earth, and I am here. I never touched my spear.

Perhaps he died from a desire to see me— so in that sense I brought about his death. But as for those prophetic oracles,they're worthless. Polybus has taken them
to Hades, where he lies.

Buffy, playing Jocasta the mother/wife, (again a love relationship between X and B would be immoral or at least wrong)says Jocasta’s last speech before dying, foreshadowing (yet again) Buffy’s death (suicide) at the end of the season.

What does this say about Buffy's relationship w Xander? That Willow stands between them, that Buffy has no patience/respect for Xander’s shortcomings, that their relationship is morally wrong (which it wouldn’t be). Here's the speech:

JOCASTA: Oh, you unhappy man! May you never find out who you really are!
OEDIPUS: [to Chorus] Go, one of you, and bring that shepherd here. Leave the lady to enjoy her noble family.
JOCASTA: Alas, you poor miserable man! There's nothing more that I can say to you. And now I'll never speak again. [JOCASTA runs into the palace ­ commmits suicide]

Xander finishes with his speech of horror, which was like this:

OEDIPUS: O the dark horror wrapped around me, this nameless visitor I can't resist swept here by fair and fatal winds.
Alas for me! And yet again, alas for me! The agony of stabbing brooches pierces me! The memory of aching shame!
OEDIPUS: Aaaiiii, aaaiii . . . Alas! Alas! How miserable I am . . . such wretchedness . . .
Where do I go? How can the wings of air sweep up my voice? Oh my destiny,how far you have sprung now!

Willow is supposed to make another speech (I couldn't figure out what), freezes up and runs off stage, then Buffy and Xander (or is it just Buffy?) step together to fill up the hole. Foreshadow that Buffy and Xander will be together “at the end” and at the end of the play. Since they don’t embrace, shows that they will never be more than friends.

Tom D. said...

So many great thoughts and observations this week by Matthew Pateman and the people posting in this thread! I especially enjoyed Pateman's observations about how the dummy embodies the recurring fate/destiny/control issues in Buffy's life and death(s). (Interesting that the episode is titled "The Puppet Show" despite the absence of any actual puppets, other than Sid, who is more properly called a dummy. I guess the title is an indication that the theme of Buffy being a puppet of fate, etc., was on Joss's mind.)

"I Robot, You Jane" is probably the best episode title I can think of, for any show. Just the fact that someone thought up an Asimov/Tarzan pun is nice, and I like that it hints at themes of self-awareness and gender roles.

The moment in "The Puppet Show" where Snyder's face is in total darkness but his ears are backlit and bright red is pretty damn funny.

Perhaps there is more to be said about the thematic significance of Buffy's difficulty with history in "Angel" -- which is emphasized in a couple of different conversations between her and Willow, and also remarked on by Joyce and Giles. I guess it partly foreshadows Buffy's resistance toward the Watchers' Council in "Checkpoint" and "Get It Done," and her rejection of the First Slayer in "Restless" -- all of which is a resistance to letting herself be defined by history. Buffy generally manages to successfully defy the adage that those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.

Throughout most of the show, "history" seems to be presented as something to be broken away from. Anya in "Selfless" is another example of that.

At other times, history takes on a sort of "guilty pleasure" quality when we see the back-stories of the vampires in "Becoming" and "Fool for Love" and various Angel episodes -- we see how much fun it was to be a carefree evil monster in the 19th century. But then, I guess the element of fun in those flashback scenes tells us something about what Angel, and later on Spike, have given up (or been deprived of), and how difficult that might have been.

And then there's Giles with his smelly books, communicating a heartfelt belief in the value of ... of what, exactly? I find those lines of his quite moving, but I'm never sure if I think he actually has a good point or not.

Oh, how I wish he weren't dead. Jenny, too, for that matter. I feel like she had a lot of potential as a positive female authority figure, which is something the show doesn't have a lot of. (Joyce at this point is nice but clueless; later on, there'll be the evil Maggie Walsh; and that's about it, until Buffy starts struggling to become an authority figure herself in Season 7.)

And how different might Willow's life have been if Jenny had lived, and had served as her mentor for a while? I think that would have had subtle ripple effects. Imagine Willow learning magic from Jenny, rather than teaching herself magic from the dead Jenny's files. Would she still have gone all dark-eyed while trying to restore Angel's soul in "Becoming"? Would she still have done the dark ritual to bring Buffy back from the dead? Would she still have started abusing magic and become dependent on it? Would her relationship with Tara have been as intense as it was? Would Tara's death still have driven her into madness as it did?

So much of Willow's story is about loneliness and isolation. I never quite saw that before. Even here in the first season, she's the "unwanted" one -- she wants Xander who wants Buffy who wants Angel. Which is, of course, why she is vulnerable to Moloch in "I Robot."

StarfuryBR said...

@Tom D., Giles is lamenting the ephemerality of computer-mediated information, and extolling the virtues of knowledge given greater permanence and tactility in the form of physical books. The significance of embodiment runs deep in this episode (as well as the next). Besides Giles and Jenny's ongoing conflict, consider Buffy and Xander's concerns over Willow's virtual romance, with their insistence on the importance of a physical dimension to a relationship, and Willow's predictable insistence that the physical doesn't matter. Adding a further layer, we have Moloch-cyborg's speeches relishing his connectedness as a digital entity, yet his desire for form, for substance, which drives him to have a body built for him so that he can exist once again in the physical world (which then leads to his entrapment and death, so there you go--nothing's simple). In his robot form he bridges both Jenny's and Giles' worlds.

I love your musings on the significance of history in the Buffyverse ALMOST as much as I love you "what if." Thanks for a very interesting post.

Suzanne said...

To Tom D. I found your comments about Willow and the way she is so isolated very interesting. It seems that the show often focuses on Buffy's isolation, which becomes obvious and a lot more evident in later seasons, but your comments about Willow made me realize that in so many ways all of the characters are isolated. Buffy's role as a slayer isolates and separates her from other people; Angel's inability to physically connect with other humans seriously isolates him, and we see this even more in his own show; Xander is often shown to be an outsider in the sense that he isn't as book smart as the others, doesn't go to college like the rest do, and doesn't have any magic abilities or special skills (of course, we find out he really does have a special quality later); Giles is alone as the only "adult" and someone who is away from his real home, and even though he finds some temporary connectedness with Jenny, it is tragically ripped from him too quickly; Oz, when he joins the gang, is isolated because of his terrible secret; Cordelia always seems like an outsider, even she becomes a part of the gang, because of her immaturity and superficial nature (until Angel); and of course, Spike ends up being very alone for much of the series for all the obvious reasons.

I wonder if this is why the group that these characters form with one another is so compelling.

Unknown said...

Let's stop this crazy whirligig of fun--I'm dizzy!


Has anyone mentioned The Anointed--that kid annoyed me from the first time he came on screen, and he still does!

One vampire gets its hand inside Buffy's door. Is this a continuity problem--later it's an invisibarrier that vampires bump up against?

"This is exactly what happens when you sign these free trade agreements!" LOL Cordy

"you're living above ground" says Darla like this is new/different for Angel. Since when did the fearsome foursome of Angel, Darla, Spike, and Drusilla, hang out underground or live in caves? I got the impression they liked the aboveground lifestyle.

re: "that hair on top of that outfit". . .I love Darla but I have to agree here.

I Robot You Jane:

Tom, I like your comments about Willow. I was surprised to find upon rewatching, how unlikeable I found, and still find, Willow's character in this episode.

Even though she is the character I most identified with my high school self, here she is super whiny and honestly, I don't find her this unlikeable again until Season 6 when she becomes an entitled whiny magic addict.

I also find it unbelievable that anyone as skilled as Willow supposedly was at hacking would find Buffy's warnings about online anonymity that shocking. Finally, that is some seriously bad background music. It reminded me of the synthesizer soundtrack in The Princess Bride, but without the charm.

The Puppet Show:

Buffy makes a Bunny Suit reference! I never caught that before. Anya foreshadowing?

Tom D. said...

Suzanne, I think you make a good point about all the main characters' loneliness and isolation. What's interesting to me, which I hadn't fully seen before, is how isolated all these characters often are from each other. We get to see pretty clearly how isolated Buffy is (as you point out), but I think sometimes it's easy to think of the rest of the Scooby Gang as just a close-knit group of pals who are warmly and closely connected to each other even though they're mostly excluded from the "popular crowd." As you've pointed out, that's not really right; they're simultaneously all quite lonely.

That theme of loneliness gets pushed to the forefront in Season 4, especially "The Yoko Factor," but really it's a lot deeper than that -- it's not just about people growing apart after they graduate from high school, it's actually something more basic and existential (am I using that word right? not sure).

I guess maybe I'd say that one of the things the show is ultimately about, is the constant need and struggle to fight off this kind of drift towards isolation -- in other words, to renew or rediscover your connections with the people you thought you were already close to.

Another related thought is that some of the relationships on the show seem to be born out of, and intensified by, the characters' loneliness. Willow/Tara is like that, as my previous comment suggested. Buffy/Spike is also like that -- at least for Buffy, but perhaps not for Spike? Buffy/Angel is like that too, I guess. Xander/Anya doesn't have the same kind of burning intensity that W/T, B/S, and B/A do, but it does seemed to be fueled by Xander's and Anya's loneliness bringing them together.

Those four relationships are also the ones that seem to rub the other main characters the wrong way, to drive the Scoobies further apart. Nobody else really "gets" Tara, as we see in "Family," even though they protect her. Willow especially doesn't "get" Anya ("Triangle"), but then, nobody else really does either. And of course Xander holds Angel and Spike in low regard, though that's pretty much driven by his own jealousy and low self-esteem.

Suzanne said...

Tom, your quote below is very thought-provoking:

"I guess maybe I'd say that one of the things the show is ultimately about, is the constant need and struggle to fight off this kind of drift towards isolation -- in other words, to renew or rediscover your connections with the people you thought you were already close to."

Maybe this is why I love the show so much; it consistently captures one of the most important themes of life and literature, as you so eloquently illustrated in your quote above. Those of you who are also Losties will probably note that this is a common theme in Lost as well. Good shows think alike. Some of you might not be old enough to remember this far back, but do any of you recognize that this is also a predominate theme in a great SciFi show of the 90's, Babylon 5?

David Kociemba said...

For those interested in Buffy's fashion, check out: Leigh Clemons' "Real Vampires Don’t Wear Shorts: The Aesthetics of Fashion in Buffy the Vampire Slayer" at: http://slayageonline.com/PDF/Clemons.pdf

Tom D. said...

This is very belated, but, apropos of this loneliness theme, I just got to read the last issue of Buffy Season 8 today. Willow, in particular, is probably the loneliest she's ever been. Yikes. There's a lot of redemption and reconnection that needs to happen there.

Kellie said...

Another excellent installment Nikki (and Mathew). I agree with Nikki that Angel is one of the BEST episodes of Season 1, followed by Prophecy Girl. I Robot, not so much...but I do love The Puppet Show, something about it is just so "classic Buffy." Interesting parallels between Puppet Show and Restless, Nikki, you are so right!

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