Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 10

2.15 Phases
2.16 Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
2.17 Passion

We seem to be equally divided between first-time watchers and rewatchers on this Buffy Rewatch, which is amazing (I know I’m not alone in being excited to discover new Buffy recruits). In the beginning of this rewatch, I was writing more as if I were talking to longtime Buffy viewers, and now I find I’m gearing my weekly posts to the newbies (or n00bs, as we sometimes call them). To all the Lost viewers out there who’ve jumped on board this rewatch because they were curious to find out what I’ve been on about, you’ve probably noticed over the years how often I’ve remarked that I love Joss Whedon’s work because no one knows how to bring the pain quite like Joss... and make us love it.

And there’s no pain quite like the pain he brings in “Passion.”

“Phases” is a great episode (I’m eager to see how many people were completely shocked to discover Oz was a werewolf!) and finally gives Seth Green a starring role. And it gives us what might be my favourite Willow/Oz scene of the series:

Oz: So... Maybe it'd be best if I just... sorta...
Willow: What?
Oz: Well, you know, like, stayed out of your way for awhile.
Willow: I don't know. I'm kind of okay with you being *in* my way.
Oz: (stops and faces her) You mean, you'd still...
Willow: Well, I like you. You're nice and you're funny. And you don't smoke. Yeah, okay, werewolf, but that's not all the time. I mean, three days out of the month I'm not much fun to be around either.
Oz: You are quite the human.
Willow: (smiles) So, I'd still if you'd still.
Oz: I'd still. I'd very still.
Willow: Okay. No biting, though.
Oz: Agreed. [Willow walks away, smiling, and then suddenly runs back, kisses him on the lips, and hops away again, leaving Oz standing there, amused and bewildered.]
Oz: A werewolf in love.

This time around, I watched this scene with a silly grin on my fave the whole time, wiping away tears of joy. Oz and Willow give me a happy like nothing else on this show.

A few other things to note:
• Willow laying a verbal smackdown on Xander and Cordy, saying he should dial 1-800-I’m dating a skanky ho.”
• Xander suggesting the werewolf had last year’s almanac.
• The werewolf hunter in “Phases” will later play Sahjhan on Angel in season 3.
• Oz’s hilarious and insane phone conversation with his aunt: “Is Jordie a werewolf? Huh. And how long has this been going on?”
• Xander suggesting Oz will always be in the backyard burying their things.

“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” gives a vehicle to Nicholas Brendon, allowing him to come to the fore. Joss loves the Xander-centric episodes… we’ve seen Teacher’s Pet, The Pack, and Inca Mummy Girl, and now this one. Generally the Xander eps are comic ones (though The Pack had a more sinister element to it) and the fan fave is The Zeppo, coming up in season 3, but this one ranks right up there. Yeah, it has a creep factor (Joyce!!) but the underlying joke is in the spell that Amy casts – notice she asks Diana to make Xander’s beloved fall in love with him… it’s as if every woman who comes after him in this episode is someone he’s crushed on or fantasized about in the past. And that makes the Joyce thing even funnier. (Perhaps Cordy is immune to the spell because unlike all the others, she’s the only one who’s really loved him back… although I would argue that Willow has always had real feelings for him, too.) One of my favourite moments of that episode is where Cordy goes to her locker and quickly slips the necklace off her neck, and looks like she really loves it and it means something to her. For all her big talk and bluster, I think she’s very lonely.

Other notes:
• How much do I love the Buffy rat cam!!!
• Giles saying seriously “We have to catch the Buffy rat.”
• I love how Xander puts up the bookshelf in front of the library door and then Buffy opens the door outward (it’s a true Big Lebowski moment). Interestingly, when he and Cordy are in the basement, they board up the door, even though it, also, opens outward.
• Did the Lost fans out there notice that the fights in the graveyard always seem to happen next to the Alpert mausoleum?

But the real star of the week is “Passion.” Back at the beginning of season 6, Space (the Canadian sci-fi network) began airing episodes of Buffy from Monday to Friday. A friend of mine who was working on a book with me at the time was watching the series for the first time, and at one point I made some sort of, “Ooh, wait’ll you see ‘Passion’” remark to him. He’s a film critic, and would often be out late during the week to watch the movies and then come home and write into the wee hours of the morning, filing the reviews for the various publications he worked for. While he was out, he’d record Buffy, then he’d come home and watch it, then write his reviews. The day after “Passion” aired he called me at work, and he sounded very strange. “Why didn’t you WARN me about this one?!” he said. He told me that he watched it, and when Giles went up the stairs, he felt like a knife had been thrust into his gut. He said he sobbed like a child for the rest of the episode, then turned off his television and just sat in the darkness, unable to move. He said he must have sat like that, alternately sobbing and staring at the wall, for a few hours. He got no sleep, barely filed his story on time, and was devastated. He said he’d never had an hour of television affect him like that. “Hm,” I said, “You might want to hold off on watching Becoming and The Body until the day after your stories are due.”

I’ve always loved this story. This was a guy in his fifties who had so identified with certain characters that the brutal death of one of them shattered him. “Passion” is that rare episode that I absolutely adore, and yet I’m writing this post the night before the rewatch (rather than a week before) because I just kept putting off watching it until I was emotionally ready. When you’ve seen it as many times as I have, there’s an anticipatory element to the second half of the episode that’s almost excruciating. When Giles comes home and finds the rose attached to his door, my whole body begins shivering and I can feel the tears coming. He walks in, sees the champagne, finds the note, glances up the stairs and a smirk comes over his face. He takes off his glasses, pats down his hair, and picks up the bottle. The whole time, we can hear “O soave fanciulla” from Puccini’s La Boheme, a gorgeous aria sung between a man and a woman in love:

Oh lovely girl, oh sweet face
bathed in the soft moonlight.
I see you in a dream
I'd dream forever!

Giles, too, will probably forever be seeing Jenny when he dreams, but what he finds at the top of the stairs is the stuff of nightmares. This time watching, as every time since that first wonderful/horrible moment where I first watched it, I could feel the lump rising in my throat the closer Giles got to the top, and as the bottle of champagne smashes to the ground, the tears began running down my cheeks.

But oh, it doesn’t stop there. No… then, just as Angelus loves to draw out the agony, so, too, do Joss and his writers just keep bringing it on. Angelus can’t just kill Jenny… he has to watch the reactions of those whom he’s hurt. Just as the episode opens with Angelus slipping quietly into Buffy’s room and watching her sleep (see, Edward? It’s FREAKIN’ CREEPY), now we see him lurking in the bushes, and watching Buffy as she picks up the phone, then slumps to the floor against the wall. Then Willow with her deep sobs falls into Joyce’s arms, while Angelus stands in the bushes, smiling and taking in the sweetness of what he’s watching. The fishkebab at the beginning of the episode is nothing compared to what Angelus does to them here. Giles, in his grief, storms down to the factory and in a zombie-like fury he tries to destroy Angel, but he doesn’t stand a chance, and Buffy knows it. She drags Giles outside and punches him in the face out of love and anger before kneeling down and they hold onto each other, a man destroyed and a girl who can’t live without him. (Cue second box of Kleenex.)

I mentioned back in “Lie to Me” that there would be another graveyard scene featuring Buffy and Giles that would be even sadder than the one next to Ford’s grave, and this is the one. You can hear the “Jenny theme” (more on that below) and if you listen closely, you’ll hear Anthony Stewart Head actually singing along with it in the non-diegetic music laid over the scene. It’s gorgeous. The Angelus voiceovers add an even darker element to the episode, from the one at the beginning:

Angelus: Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping... waiting... And though unwanted... unbidden... it will stir... open its jaws, and howl.

To the one at the end, spoken by Angelus, as we watch Giles slowly walk back into his apartment:

Angelus: It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank... Without passion, we'd be truly dead.

“Passion” is sublime, and demonstrates the heights and depths this show is capable of reaching. I hope you loved it as much as I do.

This week I’ve got a whole bunch of people who wanted to discuss these episodes with you. I thought about perhaps splitting this into two posts, but I think it's easier just to keep it all together. So sit back and join my three guest-hosts this week!

First up is our resident music expert Steve Halfyard who is back this week to give us a full analysis of the music in this week’s episodes. Last week someone asked on the boards what Steve meant by LT; she’s referring to the Love Theme, which you can listen to here:

It’s one of my favourite musical themes of any television show, and if you’re interested, you can get it as part of the BtVS score soundtrack here.


This week I’m official rather than forcing my cheese slices in where they’re not wanted [note from Nikki: they are always wanted, and welcome!!]. “Phases”, BBB (as I like to call it, much quicker) and “Passion” are three really interesting episodes to talk about from a musical perspective, so that is mostly what I’m going to do.

“Phases” is a great episode (actually, all three of these are fabulous – no Bad Eggs here!). “Phases” remembers previous episodes, develops character relationships, and sets up things for the future. Oh, and we find out that Oz is a werewolf (quite important); and Kane the werewolf hunter comes back in Angel as Sahjhan, a trans-dimensional demon (the actor, not Kane himself). So many fun things.

Alas, the music is not one of them, and that’s what makes this episode interesting as part of this group of three. It was scored by Shawn K. Clements & Sean Murray who scored a lot of episodes in season 2 and are, I’m sure, jolly capable chaps but they mostly write bog standard boring TV music (as we say in the UK – that’s not rude, by the way, it’s a corruption of the “Box standard” edition of Meccano you could buy here in the 1920s, rather than “Box deluxe”. Bit of UK trivia for you).

Now, the Seans are not all bad: they gave us the pretty, feminized version of the series theme tune for Buffy’s Dorothy Hamill moment in “What’s My Line?”, and they wrote some nicely creepy music for “Killed By Death” that ended up in the DVD menu music. But alas, this episode really shows up just how dull and lazy TV music can be. There is nothing remotely thematic at all (Oz is a werewolf: doesn’t that deserve something a bit distinctive?). Instead we are treated to a series of seemingly interminable drones: we have tense drones, scary drones, fill-in-the-silence drones and occasional bits of slightly limp action music; plus one decent piece of scary music when Teresa thinks she’s being chased by a werewolf and runs into Angelus. But oh, listen to the feebleness of the music when Teresa rises from the dead in the funeral home, fights Buffy and is staked by Xander. That staking is a really dramatic moment: and it becomes part of Xander/ Nicholas Brendon’s credit sequence for many seasons to come – but the music does absolutely nothing to underpin Xander doing something useful and effective (for a change). Lame. The closest the music gets to being interesting is the rather generic bit of lyrical piano and guitar for Oz and Willow being monosyllabically romantic at the end. Pah.

Anyway, the next two episodes seem to be trying very hard to make up for the musical mediocrity of “Phases”. Scored by the lovely Christophe Beck, right from the start BBB is in a different musical league. Compare the teaser here to the Teresa staking scene before. As Buffy fights the vampire, the music is gestural – it is written to her physical gestures, bringing out the sense of movement and action, but also the drama. There’s a fabulous musical climax leading up to the moment Buffy stakes the vampire; then a little bit of post-staking ambience as she and Xander talk. She tells him that slaying is more perilous than dating; he replies that she is obviously not dating Cordelia – and a lovely little musical sting (as we call it in the trade) comes in after he says it, like punctuation. It’s a tiny moment but it’s not lazy: Beck’s music actively engages with every movement and line and look and nuance of what’s going on in the show and helps structure the scene. And that’s why Mr Beck is relatively unusual in TV scoring, and why what he does lifts the show’s music out of the ordinary and into the innovative. Basically, he treats it like a film score (where you get maybe 10-12 weeks to write music for a 2 hour film) rather than a TV score (where you get a week to write music for a 40 minute show. Do the maths!). Another sequence later on takes this further: have a listen to the way Beck paces, stretches out and builds the tension throughout the scene where Buffy and Joyce are watching TV when a knock at the door precedes the delivery of flowers and the creepsome message “soon” – the whole scene is beautifully underpinned, and the music builds to an unfinished climax as the camera focuses on Buffy’s face at the end, really giving us a sense of the sick physical feeling she is experiencing as she understands that Angel is stalking her and threatening her. This whole scene is scored much more like it would be in a film rather than a TV episode.

Things Beck does in this episode also give some insight into his overall approach to scoring. We have episode specific themes (which are essentially restricted to a single episode, although even these do sometimes crop up in a later episode to remind us of something); cross-episode themes, which can go through whole seasons and even across seasons; and as a special category of that, we have love theme variations, reworkings of elements that belong to the love theme to say new things, not always about either Buffy or Angel, but always to do with love.

Episode-specific themes
• Xander’s “sad-and-lonely, nobody loves me” music, coming in at the end of the scene where Cordy dumps him and taking us through the transition to the next day at school. It comes back again when Giles sends him home in disgrace, and it starts, very briefly, when Xander thinks he’s being rejected again at the end, just before Cordy comes up trumps.
• Amy’s spell theme: say no more, it’ll be obvious.

Cross-episode themes
• Xander’s quirky theme (“everything’s going wrong” panic music) - pizzicato strings, tremolos and skittering violin melody; it’s fast and funny and actually had its first embryonic outing back in “School Hard” when Xander is rifling through Buffy’s bag looking for a stake and finds a tampon instead. Here, it finds its true form, and we get it in several other episodes too, most especially “The Zeppo” in season 3.

Love theme variations
Everything to do with love and/ or loss seems to turn into a Buffy/ Angel love theme variation. These variations take elements of the love theme, usually the first three notes with that big falling sixth and then the small step up.

• Giles and Jenny meeting in the corridor early in BBB and have a rather awkward conversation – it’s definitely the love theme but gone horribly wrong (go figure);
• Cordelia hiding her true feelings from Xander as she takes the locket off behind her locker door: almost like an inverted version, with the falling note at the start rising instead. Still very much in the same ‘area’ as the love theme;
• Cordelia near the end realising that the spell was meant for her, and that Xander loves her after all.
• Xander looking back through the library window as he realises that that the spell has affected Buffy too, and she does not love him at all.

Also, note the silence when Buffy, in the preceding library scene, suddenly ‘sees’ Xander; and then when Amy and later Jenny come on to him – the clue that this isn’t love is in the fact that there is no love-themey music. Also, got to love Buffy’s saxophone film noir moment when she comes back to the library wearing nothing but a raincoat. Buff, for the love of God, don't open that raincoat!

The popular music used in this episode is also doing new things: in the Bronze, we see Dingoes Ate My Baby (we’re hearing the band Four Star Mary!) performing their song “Pain” as Cordy dumps Xander; and when the spell has kicked in we get a crazy old 1970s funk number from the Average White Band for Xander’s slo-mo John Travolta-esque strut down the corridor. It’s funny because the music and the slo-mo are sending it up: think about how utterly sincere (and emotionally devastating) some of the other uses of pop songs are in this series (“Goodbye to You” at the end of Tabula Rasa, for example); or even “Pain” in this episode – it’s ‘real’ music, music that belongs to the characters, that they might (and do) listen to, the soundtrack of their lives as well as of the episode; and the lyrics underpin what the characters are feeling. But “Got the Love” is so retro, so old fashioned, so supremely uncool that it’s ridiculous – it is making fun of Xander because actually, none of these women really find him attractive, any more than they would find this music cool (although, have to say, I always found early Xander mightily cute).

“Passion” again has its own episode specific music, but the theme you may have missed is the Angelus motif – his own little musical signature, a motif (something very short) rather than a theme (a more extended idea). The main idea is a pair of falling notes, normally followed by a third note, and then a number of different ways of ending. For those who do notation, think of it as a C falling to a B, then a drop to a G sharp. We get it in pretty much every scene with Angelus present or just implied – every time we see one of those letters/ drawings, it’s played high up (creepy); then in the scene where he confronts Jenny in the classroom, it suddenly drops to be played really low down (danger!); and the two falling notes dominate the chase music as he pursues her through the school to her doom.

The more obvious and utterly lovely episode theme is another version of the love theme used for Giles and Jenny. It’s not the original theme, but it is so close that you can hear the Buffy/ Angel version theme lurking at the edges. When I talked about this in Florida last year, I attempted to demonstrate by singing the love theme whilst playing the “Passion” theme on the piano (9.30 in the morning, jetlagged, not very good!) but it can be done. Anyway, the allusion to the LT is a rather horrible clue that this is not going to end well; it sounds like it’s about love, but if we hear it as an aspect of the main LT, it is warning that there is going to be great loss. We get it several times in connection to both Giles and Jenny in the first twenty minutes, establishing that it is about their relationship; and then we hear it again when Buffy and Willow learn of Jenny’s death. It mirrors the journey of the original LT: starting out about love, becoming about loss. And then it brings the relationship between the two themes back round narratively to Buffy and her losses. We hear it when she rescues Giles from his attempt to avenge Jenny’s death, where it underpins her fear of losing him (“Were you trying to get yourself killed? You can’t leave me”); and it plays over the scene with Buffy and Giles at Jenny’s graveside and Buffy’s acceptance that her own love is irretrievably lost and she now has to kill the man she once loved. There’s a sense of the theme passing from Giles and Jenny back to Buffy and Angel: Firstly, we have Angel’s voice-over whilst we (in fact) hear Giles’s voice singing the theme (inarticulate with grief, there are no words but he physically inhabits the music that represents his love for Jenny); and then at the end of the episode, Buffy’s voice replaces Angel’s – their voices frame the theme, linking their passion to Giles and Jenny’s, Buffy’s loss to Giles’s loss.

It was a musically good decision to use a different version of the LT here (and in BBB) because Beck knows that he needs the big theme for the season finale (it’s not far off now) and he’s is an intelligent enough composer to know that you should never bludgeon your audience with a theme or it starts to lose its impact. So he’s saving it: tapping into its meanings but restricting the number of outright statements of it he makes in order to ensure maximum impact when he does use it. So even though we’ve only had one clear statement of the LT since “Innocence” (in “Passion”, in the scene just after Willow’s found the dead fish and Buffy talks about the Angel she has lost), the variations on it we have in BBB and “Passion” means that it’s constantly there, just below the surface, not letting us forget it.


I’m very pleased this week to introduce for the first time into the Rewatch the woman who is known throughout the world of Whedon Studies as the Mother of Buffy Studies, Rhonda Wilcox. I first met Rhonda at Slayage 3 in 2008 (shock) where I was a little nervous to meet her, having read both Fighting the Forces and Why Buffy Matters, but she was instantly accommodating and lovely (and we had a shared dislike of high-fives). I’m a big fan of her work -- Fighting the Forces is the book of essays she did with David Lavery (who was part of our second week on the rewatch) and Why Buffy Matters is an extended study of the art of Buffy, and a brilliant book if you want to check it out (please do!) She is a professor of English at Gordon College in Georgia and the president of the Whedon Studies Association.
She is the editor of Studies in Popular Culture and the coeditor of Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association. Along with the two books mentioned, she is the editor with Tanya Cochran, of Investigating Firefly and Serenity: Science Fiction on the Frontier; and, with Sue Turnbull, of Investigating Veronica Mars, which just came out. And if you’re wondering why she didn’t focus on “Passion” in the essay below, it’s because she’ll be covering that episode in a much longer essay in an upcoming post on PopMatters http://www.popmatters.com/pm/special/section/spotlight-joss-whedon, which is hosting a special Joss Whedon spotlight all month long on their site. (It’s excellent, and I urge you all to check it out and find many of our contributors here on it! However, thar be spoilers, and they don’t white them out over there!) ;)

So without any further ado, please welcome Rhonda!

“I’d Very Still”: Love After “Innocence”
Rhonda V. Wilcox

One of the things I love best about Buffy is that the series does not end with coupling. At the end of the seven television seasons, it’s not all about who’s going to mate with whom; it’s about the larger journey of life — not just romantic love. Now those who know me might comment that that’s easy for me to say; I’ve been happily married for many years. But it’s important that the series places such a great emphasis on other values — standing on your own and (seemingly opposite but really not) friendship. Agape love is more important than eros in Buffy. But eros has its place, and one such place is this sequence of episodes. In the immediately preceding “Surprise” / “Innocence,” Buffy and Angel have made love and Angel is lost. But then, rather than turning to simple monster-fighting to get past the trauma, we have three more episodes about Scooby love lives: “Phases,” about Willow and Oz; “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” about Xander and Cordelia; and “Passion,” about Giles and Jenny — and, again, Buffy and Angel. These episodes are about both the death of love and the endurance of love.

In “Phases,” Willow finally gets smoochies; and it is satisfying that Oz is worthy of being smooched. Willow, the unpopular smart girl, was my emotional way into the show; she was the one I identified with first (later, I identified with Buffy and overwork). Given that Willow wasn’t getting Xander, it was very important that the person our smart girl got was cool. As many Buffy fans know, this was not the first pairing of Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green; Hannigan was the stepdaughter in My Stepmother Is an Alien, and tiny Alyson’s first date was tiny Seth. The two undeniably have on-screen chemistry. In addition, the Oz character is both a senior and the lead guitarist for a rock band, Dingoes Ate My Baby (the name cannot be said too often). But more importantly, Oz has internal qualities that make him worthy of Willow. We know he is intelligent; he and Willow were the only students recruited by the giant software company in “What’s My Line.” He also sees things others don’t. At the beginning of “Phases,” we find him staring at a cheerleading trophy; when Willow enters, he tells her its eyes follow him. Those of us who watched “Witch” (1.3) know that it encases the vengeful spirit of Amy’s mom — something not even Willow and the other Scoobies know. (This scene also prepared audiences for Amy’s return in “Bewitched.”) His attentiveness has already been displayed; in “Surprise,” when at Buffy’s birthday party Oz witnesses a vampire being staked and must be told of the magical dark side of Sunnydale, he does not react with the usual denial: “Actually, it explains a lot,” he says. He observes Willow’s feelings for Xander, too, and is willing to wait. And while he may sometimes seem the epitome of the laconic, he is nonetheless blessed with a crucial quality for strong characters in any Whedonverse: the ability to play with language. When Willow says hi, he responds, “Oh, that’s what I was gonna say.” Like other major Buffy players, he moves words to unusual places: When Willow says she enjoyed seeing a movie with him, he answers, “My time was also of the good.” And when Larry talks to him about getting “Buffy and Willow action,” he replies with a gentle riposte: “That’s great, Larry — you’ve really mastered the single-entendre.” His restraint here is another one of his fine qualities, qualities that let us feel good about his dating our Willow.

All this virtue is on display in a minefield of an episode: the episode after the cruelty of “Innocence.” And, indeed, “Phases” is full of anger at the male of the species. This is the episode in which Oz becomes a werewolf. After we’ve learned that a werewolf is on the loose but before we know it’s Oz, Giles describes the animalistic violence of the creature. “Your typical male,” says the emotionally wounded Buffy (Giles points out that it might be a female). Willow and Cordelia also complain about men, specifically about Xander and Oz: the former keeps talking about Willow and Buffy when he’s with Cordelia; the latter, apparently still waiting to be sure Xander is out of Willow’s system, has yet to kiss her. “What’s his problem?” asks Cordelia. “Oh, right, he’s a guy.” “Couple of guys,” agrees Willow. And later in the episode, when Oz has deserted Willow, Buffy asserts, “They grow body hair, they lose all ability to tell you what they really want.” Thus “Phases,” the werewolf episode, suggests that even the most intelligent, self-possessed, and restrained of young men has an animal inside. By the end of the episode, Willow claims some of that wildness too (and the longer the series goes, the truer we know that to be); but some anger seems right for the emotional arc of the series at this point. And in the end, we get past the anger. After Oz’s secret is discovered and he offers to leave her alone, Willow instead offers to stay: “I’d still if you’d still,” she says. “I’d very still,” he happily replies. She is indeed, as he says, “quite the human” — and she is the one who, right out there in the crowded sunshine, kisses him. Even after “Innocence,” love can still be sweet.

“Phases” is in part about shame and secrets — not just wolfish ones; it’s also the episode in which we learn Larry is gay (and I have always loved that his self-recognition allowed him to become a kinder person). “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” on the other hand, is about another important part of high school: public humiliation. In this episode, Cordelia loses status because of dating Xander; she turns her public humiliation into his when she dumps him at the Valentine’s Day dance. But by the end of the episode she publicly claims him, demonstrating that Cordelia has the character to make her worthy of Xander. (I’d say more, but I promised Nikki I’d stick to a thousand words.) In “Passion,” Jenny’s patience and intelligent determination result in her reconciliation with Giles—another case of love enduring. It is also, however, in dreadful parallel with Buffy and Angel, a case of the loss of love. It is one of the most beautiful and horrifying episodes of the series. Like “Innocence,” it makes us aware of the meaning of love through its loss. Thankfully, the episodes between — “Phases” and “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” — comfort us with the bravery of love.


And finally, on deck next is David Kociemba, who was previously on here in our season 1 finale week talking about “Nightmares,” “Invisible Girl,” and “Prophecy Girl.” Thanks for coming back, David!

Love in the Time of Angelus
David Kociemba

These three episodes are near and dear to my heart. I broke writer’s block of several years duration defending “Passion”. “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” is an early moment where Xander takes of the mantle of Emersonian comic heroism. This passage is from Emerson’s essay, Manners: “I have seen an individual, whose manners, though wholly within the conventions of elegant society, were never learned from there, but were original and commanding, and held out protection and prosperity; one who did not need the aid of a court-suit, but carried the holiday in his eye; who exhilarated the fancy by flinging wide the doors of new modes of existence; who shook off the captivity of etiquette, with happy, spirited bearing, good-natured and free as Robin Hood; yet with the port of an emperor,—if need be calm, serious, and fit to stand the gaze of millions.” Stanley Cavell writes about the screwball comedy roles of Cary Grant and Barbara Stanwyk in this light in Pursuits of Happiness. To me, it defines him in this episode, the first with Buffy shunted to the B storyline due to her commitment to appear on SNL. He’ll have a few more of these moments later in the series.

But “Phases” was the first episode I ever watched. I was at a friend's house studying with her for a midterm for a graduate school film studies course. She insisted that we take a break and watch an episode being aired that night. What enthralled me was that it validated one of my pet theories about the werewolf myth, which is that the werewolf investigates what would happen if men menstruated. (Once a month, on a cycle connected to the moon, the man's secondary sexual characteristics run wild and he experiences violent mood swings. See Ginger Snaps for an excellent take on the werewolf myth from the girl’s perspective.) The final exchange between Willow and Oz clinched the series for me, “I mean, three days out of the month I’m not much fun to be around either.” The series creators knew how to work on multiple layers of meaning at the same time and were aware of the multiple meanings that these myths carry. I was primed to be an active viewer because the first episode I saw had rewarded that behavior. (As a midseason replacement with low ratings airing prior to the arrival of YouTube, many viewers saw the series out of order in broadcast.)

One of the things that strikes me about these three episodes now is the enormous courage of the characters to dare to believe in love and fall hard for one another. Angelus proves that all lovers are dangerous, for we can lose ourselves in them and they can transform into strangers before our very eyes. Jennifer Cruisie wrote the best article on romance in the Whedon scholarship in Seven Seasons of Buffy. She writes:

“But there’s another dimension to Buffy’s love stories beyond the psychological accuracy, a dimension that makes them even deeper: the ever-present knowledge that while falling in love can be devastating, consummating that love can be lethal…. [L]ove in this world really is a matter of life and death…. In a world where any attempt to find connection results in pain and death, love is an unbelievable act of courage.”

Cordelia’s dares social death, Xander learns to give up the pornographic gaze, Willow busts a move and Giles suffers heartbreak. We find each other, against all odds. This impulse to form attachments defines humanity for Joss Whedon. In Dollhouse, repeated memory wipes aren’t enough to separate Echo, Sierra and Victor. This embrace of humanism as our greatest virtue gets it most direct expression n the Firefly episode, “Our Mrs. Reynolds”:

SAFFRON: Everybody plays each other. That’s all anybody ever does. We play parts.
MAL: You got all kinds of learnin’ and you made me look the fool without tryin’, and yet here I am with a gun to your head. That’s ‘cause I got people with me. People who trust each other, who do for each other, and ain’t always lookin’ for the advantage.

Mal rejects the postmodern understanding of the human condition as isolated performances of social roles in a context where power perverts every aspect of life in favor of the understanding, liberty and fellowship of old-fashioned humanism. Our love defines us.

Did You Notice?
…that Giles laughs at one of Xander’s jokes for once?
… how the tiresome Karofsky Glee storyline was handled with grace and humor a decade earlier with Larry here?
… why the love spell went awry? The incantation appeals to Diana, a virgin goddess who herself usurped the masculine role of the hunter. In a popular folk tale, Diana punished a hunter who spied on her while she was bathing. She transformed him into another object of desire by turning him into a hart to be hunted by his own hounds, which lust for his blood. Holding a lit candle in his lap, Xander sits on the floor within the painted red symbol of the female sex. And he’s stripped the waist, revealing muscular shoulders, arms and chest. Xander has made himself into a spectacle for the camera’s admiring gaze; he’s taken the place of the woman in the cinematic tradition. (Again.) This spell is designed to gain control over another person’s erotic desire, over their genitals. Had a heterosexual woman blown out a lit candle held in their lap, she would have demonstrated her control over the ritual’s symbol of male lust, the phallic candle. The logic of magic is that like attracts like and the part stands for the whole. So, the candle should attract its visual like, a penis. Xander’s symbolism is that of masturbation, a sexual conquest in the imagination rather than the real.
…that the men seem to be ensorcelled too? A few male peers gaze at him admiringly. The others react to him with intense anger, possibly repressing that sexual desire and redirecting it into aggression. Giles coldly berates him. Ordinarily unflappably cool, Oz is “left with the very strong urge to hit him.” Even Angelus admits to “feeling very close to [Xander] right now.” Oh, how I wish Larry had been in this episode.
… that force is okay for Willow? It’s not just Vamp Willow who’s excited by playing “Mistress of Pain”.
…that Angelus has the first voice-over of the series? (Or possibly the second, depending on how you read Anthony Stewart Head’s intoned intro.) For the first time, a villain has power of voiceover, enabling him to serve as the storyteller, the narrative guide. Angelus becomes the center to patterns of editing, rather than Buffy. It is his position that is adopted by the camera as viewers watch Buffy and Willow react to the death of Jenny Calendar. Angelus systematically rewrites the settings within the series, the rules of the series itself, and our relationship to the series. We invited him into our homes as much as Buffy, Willow and Giles did. The question will be whether we too will change the locks.
… what’s playing when Giles discovers Jenny? It’s La Vie Boheme: “Oh! Lovely Girl! Oh sweet face/bathed in the soft moonlight/I see you in the dream/I’ll dream forever.” It still makes me get a lump in my throat, even after seven years of teaching this episode.
… the lovely use of pools of light to edit within the frame when Angelus chases Jenny from one school building to another? This was the first time cinematographer Michael Gershman directed an episode for the series.
… that Giles never denies that he was trying to get himself killed? This pays off in the season finale.

Thank you, David!
Next week: One of my favourite people in the world, Ian Klein, joins me to discuss "Killed by Death," "I Only Have Eyes for You," and "Go Fish," the trio of episodes that will precede the series 2 finale!


Marebabe said...

Remember in the movie “Sixteen Candles”, when Farmer Ted broke the fourth wall, leaned in towards the camera and said, “THIS is getting good!” That’s how I feel about Buffy this week. Holy cow! Way to live up to the hype (or the buzz)! It did occur to me, pretty much every time I paused the DVD to scribble down more notes, that I would’ve enjoyed these episodes even more if I were not so involved with note-taking. But it’s just an indispensable part of this journey with this particular group.

In “Phases”, Xander’s phone number (according to Willow): 1-800-I’MDATINGASKANKYHO. Yay, Willow!

I was surprised that Buffy and Giles so unflinchingly revealed to Cain that they were hunting werewolves. I’m not used to them being so forthright and direct. At first I thought the reason for it might have been that, with a werewolf in the vicinity, everyone is in danger and should be warned. But on the other hand, everyone is in danger with vampires running all over the place, but it’s a closely-guarded secret, known only to a few.

They TOTALLY set me up to believe that Larry, the Biff Tannen-wannabe, would turn out to be the werewolf. Gullible much? I swallowed that one, hook, line and sinker! Which was really fine, as it turned out, because then the Oz reveal was shocking, as the writers intended. Sometimes it’s good to not be too clever, as the people who saw that one coming from a mile away didn’t get to go on the same thrill-ride I experienced.

Watching this show, I suspend my disbelief every episode before we even get to the opening credits. But I have to say, Buffy bending that double-barreled shotgun in her bare hands was pretty ridiculous. In the spirit of fairness, I consulted with my husband about it. (He gets all my science questions, AND he knows quite a bit about firearms.) I asked him if there was any human being on the planet who could bend a shotgun like that, and we discussed it pretty thoroughly. And then he summed it up very neatly: “If Buffy were an ORDINARY 17-year-old girl, they wouldn’t have made a TV show about her.” Brilliant! That’s it in a nutshell.

Marebabe said...

I give “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” 4 stars and 2 enthusiastic thumbs up! I think this is the first Buffy episode that, as soon as I finished watching it, I wanted to watch it again just for fun! The cast must’ve had such a blast making this one.

I kept noticing the music in this episode. When Giles and Jenny were talking in the hall, the music was haunting and lyrical, absolutely beautiful. I thought we were probably hearing the beginnings of a “Giles and Jenny Theme”. I had not yet read Steve Halfyard’s in-depth analysis, obviously, so what I noticed was pretty superficial. (Speaking of Jenny, she was a traitor not long ago. I was trying to remember, when did she reconcile with the group? Is this another thing I’ve forgotten, like when I couldn’t remember how Spike got into his wheelchair?) And then there was that extremely energetic violin theme that we heard several times. (Steve Halfyard calls it “Xander’s quirky theme”.) I enjoyed that one immensely, and it reminded me of the music in “The Witches of Eastwick”. Similar story themes, similar score.

Even before the girl-mob (including the lunch lady!) started chasing Xander, I kept thinking that this episode would surely end with a MORAL. Better yet, an ending like 80% of all South Park episodes. We’d get a nice little speech from Xander that started off with, “I learned something today..."

Of all the women whose eyes glazed over when they saw Xander, I enjoyed Willow and Jenny the most. How can acting be subtle and over-the-top at the same time? And Xander’s reactions were perfect. A heady mixture of conflict, confusion, and consternation, with just a hint of mellow guilt. Delicious!

And I haven’t enjoyed watching a rat this much since “Ratatouille”! (If this had been a theatrical movie, I know we would’ve seen “rat wrangler” in the end credits.)

Marebabe said...

What a VERY creepy opening to “Passion”, with Angel’s stalking and narration. I should’ve known (and I actually did know) that things were going to get way creepier!

Imagine, students coming to the school library to look for books. Tsk, what’s it coming to?

I LOVED the scene where Jenny so sweetly and sincerely apologized to Giles. (For awhile there, it almost seemed that this episode, with its apology, belonged BEFORE BB&B.) And again with the beautiful music. The Giles/Jenny theme is as lovely as the Buffy/Angel theme. Alas, I think we’ve probably heard the last of the Giles/Jenny music.

In the scene with Buffy and Willow in Buffy’s room, I noticed the string of garlic bulbs behind them. At first I thought it was funny, but then I wondered if garlic has been used before and I just missed it? It wouldn’t be the first time I missed something obvious. And the garlic was pretty darned obvious in this scene!

I thought Angel was Angelus now, but Drusilla still calls him Angel. In fact, the names Angel/Angelus seem to be used interchangeably, willy-nilly, as the mood changes, from one scene to the next, depending on who’s speaking. Et cetera.

I used to think that all the best Buffy episodes would have to have Joss Whedon’s name stamped on them. But he neither wrote nor directed this episode. The sequence when Giles got home and found Jenny upstairs was STUNNING. Gorgeously written, directed, acted and edited. I think I’m in love.

Is it just me, or does Drusilla pronounce Spike as “Spoik”?

Do NOT piss off Giles!

The final shot of the yellow computer disc falling to the floor was the utmost awesome! Nikki, on Facebook this week you said you wished you could be a fly on the wall to see my reaction to these episodes as I watched them for the first time. I now know what you were talking about. My jaw DROPPED when I saw that final shot! And now I have TWO episodes that I want to watch again right now!

David Kociemba said...

@Marebabe: "I suspend my disbelief every episode before we even get to the opening credits."

I'll restrict myself to saying that season three is going to make use of a lot of your suspension of disbelief. Depending on your particular disbeliefs, of course.

David Kociemba said...

"I thought Angel was Angelus now, but Drusilla still calls him Angel. In fact, the names Angel/Angelus seem to be used interchangeably, willy-nilly, as the mood changes, from one scene to the next, depending on who’s speaking."

Whether a person uses Angelus indicates a great deal about them. Drusilla doesn't acknowledge the reality of a good Angel, just as the use of Angelus indicates a desire to separate the two into distinct beings, rather than see them as one person with each responsible for the acts of the other. Suffice it to say, this question of identity will be examined in greater depth later in Whedon's works.

David Kociemba said...

And, actually, if you don't mind copious spoilers, Stacey Abbott wrote an entire article on the Angel/Angelus dichotomy. See: http://slayageonline.com/PDF/abbott2.pdf

TomWill said...

This trilogy of episodes had it all - I was intrigued, I laughed, I cried.

Joss Whedon is a master!!

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Buffy bends the rifle - like Superman. It's short form for 'Buffy is a superhero'.

I loved the scene with Willow and Cordy bonding over complaining about Xander. Doctor Who will later borrow it with Sarah Jane and Rose.

I'm sorry, but the werewolves on Buffy are the worst looking werewolves I've ever seen. They always take me out of the moment. Not that I much care for werewolves anyway (but I love Oz.)

The Bronze set is really beautiful. It looks so much like a real club, especially when they get into the back hallways. Unless the back hallways are a location, in which case ignore me.

For a moment when Oz is transforming he looks like he's wearing his Buffy the movie pointy ear makeup - he was cut from the film but he's on the cover art.

I really feel sorry for Theresa. Doomed at defense class (Larry) and just plain doomed (Angel.) Though are is that just a shoddy funeral parlour not filling in the neck wounds, or have they given up trying? BTW, how do vampires survive embalming?

Oz' house looks a lot like Buffy's.

Oz can't control the wolf the way Angel can't control Angelus - though apparently Oz is the bigger badass.

Why did Amy turn to witchcraft when she hated it? Does she still have a little mommy in her?

The Cordy/Xander love story is a lot like the movie Valley Girl.

Oz is a gentleman. Why didn't he give naked Buffy his shirt?

I know Passion is a very serious episode, but someone really needs to buy Buffy some makeup remover for bedtime. At least Willow has given up wearing it to bed.

If Buffy and Joyce are eating dinner and their plates are full, why isn't the chicken carved?

When Dru was ill, Spike brought her a nice big girl. Dru eats the girl herself and brings Spike the puppy.

When Angel 'confessed' to Joyce, she could have called the police and had him arrested.

In real life, Giles would have been the main suspect. And didn't the police find the weapons in his bedroom?

It saddens me that Jenny is buried in a tomb with her false name.

This is something about Passion I noticed for the first time on this rewatch. Angel narrates the story, explaining passion. But Angel is the one person in the story without any. Spike is jealous, Buffy is angry, Willow is terrified, Giles is griefstricken - but Angel very coldly manipulates their emotions without apparently having any. The root word of passion means to suffer (like the passion of the Christ). Angel loves to make people suffer.

Anonymous said...

I also wanted to say hi to Rhonda. We were on the Magic, Science and Technology panel together at Writercon in Atlanta.

Page48 said...

I did notice the "Alpert" mausoleum, just as I noticed the "Hurley" headstone in "What's My Line?:Part 1" (about 19 minutes in).

In "Bad Eggs", Xander said "you've gotta be cruel to be kind". If that's the case, "Passion" was all about the kindness. Buffy was uncharacteristically cruel during her last encounter with Jenny. Angelus was cruel from wire to wire.

As a viewer, it's such a pleasure to sit back and have so much pain and suffering inflicted in such a short period of time. The writers know which buttons to push and when to push them. I mean, just think of the burden on Buffy (having skewered Jenny earlier in their final meeting), as Buffy slumps to the floor upon learning of her death at Angel's hand.

Even though I know I'm being used emotionally, that's exactly what I signed on for. To feel so deeply for the plight of characters in a series as outrageously unrealistic as BtVS is one of the reasons that the show is so endearing.

I love the poster at school advertising 'self defense' classes. What, in Sunnydale??

I love Dru's taste in puppies.

For a show that features a lot of death, Jenny's was shocking and memorable...but in a good way.

"The local boogedy, boogedy store". Ha, I love Angelus (sort of).

The Question Mark said...

Unfortunately, even though this is my first time ever watching Buffy, I've always known through word of mouth that Oz was a werewolf (kinda the same way people who haven't seen Star Wars still know that Vader is Luke's father). So I didn't get to experience that twist. But still, great episode, and the bit with Larry coming out to Xander in the locker room was the highlight! It was so funny and awkward and touching at the same time, and Xander's reaction is priceless.

"BBB" was great, a stellar example of how Joss Whedon can take characters who at first seem villainous, like Cordelia or Jayne Cobb, and then turn them into some of the most likeable and sympathetic people around.

And "Passion"...thanks, Joss. Thanks for making me cry like a little girl when Buffy punched Giles & then they both just fell to the ground in tears. Thanks a lot.

@NIKKI: That Alpert mausoleum is hilarious! And it's always so prominent! My theory: during one of Richard's trips to the mainland back in 1996, he visited Sunnydale, California while recruiting new Others. Once there, he secretly vowed to one day break free of his eternal life curse and die peacefully in a nice location away from the craziness of the Island. So he had the mauseoleum constructed to be ready for him when that time came.
But upon returning to the Island, Richard was told by Jacob that Sunnydale is on a Hellmouth. So Richard was all like,"FML", and he abandoned the idea altogether.
So nobody's actually buried in the Alpert mausoleum, but if Buffy goes in there, she'll see 4-8-15-16-23-42 written on one of the walls, and she and Giles will spend several hours trying to decipher its meaning before giving up and moving on to simpler puzzles, such as the Theory of Relativity.

Lesley C said...

It's late, my eyes are red and puffy, and I can't even process all the "hurts so good" pain from Passions. For now, I'll second Question Mark and thank Joss for making me cry like a baby. What a fantastic trio of episode...

I plan to rewatch BBB and Passions tomorrow just to pay attention to the music - though I did pick up on the hints of the Angel/Buffy LT that was were used in the Giles/Jenny theme. I need to pay more attention to Xander's music, though.

@Marebabe: I, too, had no idea Oz was the werewolf. He and Willow are rapidly become my favorite TV couple ever.

@Redeem: I love your thoughts on each character's passion, especially Angel's apparent lack of passion. Maybe his love of inflicting pain is a passion. Watching from his point of view has Giles delivers the news of Jenny's death to Buffy and Willow by phone was heartbreaking.

When was Angel invited into Giles' house? Was it an earlier episode that I don't remember?

Why doesn't everyone in the Scooby gang carry a cross with them at all time? It wouldn't have saved Jenny but it would have bought her some time as she ran from Angel in the school halls.

I know there's more but excuse me while I go blow my nose and blot my tears again...

Efthymia said...

"Phases": I knew that Oz was a werewolf before I watched BtVS for the first time, so I'll forever wonder if I would have been surprised or if I would have figured it out.
I have already expressed my love for Oz numerous times, and Willow/Oz is one of my favourite TV couples ever, so the new thing I have to say is: love the continuity (1), hate the SFX (2).
(1) There are references in "The Witch" and in "The Pack" in this episode, and I love how they continuously seem to include past happenings in BtVS -it's only one season apart this time, but continuity is strong during all 7 seasons (unlike some shows, where for instance a character dies and then two episodes away it's as if they never existed).
(2) The werewolf costume/effect/thingy/whatever is horrible, and it does take the viewer away from the story (because all you can think about is how fake it looks).

"Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered": Diana-godess of love? (the "and the hunt" part is OK). In greek mythology, it is Aphrodite (Venus) who is the godess of love and Artemis (Diana) is the godess of the hunt, a virgin who always hangs around with her girlfriends. Maybe that's why the spell went wrong, because Amy invoked the wrong godess?
The scene where Cordelia removes the necklace behind her locker door is indeed very sweet and sad, and I believe generates an affection for Cordelia that many viewers probably didn't feel before.

"Passion": Excellent (but very painful) episode!
I find that there is a real sense of threat throughout the episode -the staging, the music, the lighting, I can't explain it, but I can feel it in my bones every time.
The scene where Giles climbs up the stairs and finds Jenny lying dead feels like a stake through my heart every time I watch it -and I think it's worse when you know what to expect. The impact of this scene is proof of the talent involved in BtVS.
Poor, poor Giles never had a chance to enjoy the relationship with Jenny: just when things had started heating up, Ethan Rayne appeared, his meddling resulting in Jenny's distancing herself from Giles, then just as she forgives him the whole Angel thing happens and the entire Scooby gang (including Giles) is angry at her, and when they finally decide to move forward... *sigh!*
However, how AWESOME was Giles ferociously attacking Angel with the torch!!? Angel is a big bad vampire, and he is so surprised by the attack that he just sits there getting beaten up at first! And from the brief awesomeness (including Spike enjoying the beating and stopping Drusilla from interfering) to heartbreak again, as we see Giles break down in Buffy's arms.
By the way, Willow crying always has me cry as well. She could be crying because she spilled sauce on her favourite shirt and I'd still well up...

@Colleen/redeem147: I personally like that the tombstone reads "Jenny Calendar"; this is who she was to Giles, who loved her so, and I think this is how she saw herself by the time she died.

@Marebabe: Yes, Drusilla does call him Spoik! And of course, this is how we always refer to Spike with my sister :)

Missy said...

I really enjoy 'Phases'&'BBB' they are among my top funny eps.
Not my top 20 overall but in the really great funny ep list they rank HIGH :).
I've been listening to Potentialcast(I'm assuming quite afew here know of Steph and her "Potentials")and I said that 'Passion' doesn't hit me as much as some later episodes.
Epiphany time....I've realized the reason I can say that is because the first time I saw 'Passion' way back in 97' it drained me....it took all of my emotions for it and just cut them out of me....I am void of feelings when I rewatch 'Passion'.
(Which is a scary thought)
Compared to an ep in S5 called 'The Body'(which comes across as a formal exercise,Intended! if I understand what Joss says in the Commentary for it)...Which I can watch numerous times cry(and I do mean CRY) and still feel the need to rewatch just days later...'Passion' KILLED my Passion for the ep.
(There's no other way to explain how I can sit & watch it without dying alittle inside).
I've found myself having to remind people in late S1(I may be remebering when wrong but I'm certain of the fact it happened) Giles tells Angel to meet him at his house....hence the need for the disinvite.

Marebabe said...

@Question Mark: Bravo, sir, on your Alpert mausoleum theory! I'm sure that is exactly what happened. One day, Joss had lunch with Damon and Carlton...

Lisa(until further notice) said...

I so loved watching Phases and BBB again. My favorite scene in Phases was the one when OZ was on the phone with his aunt...really adorable. Seth Green is really wonderful as OZ. It was also heartbreaking when Cordy broke up with Xander. You could see on her face in the Bronze that she really didn't want to do it. And she commented on how good Xander looked. I found that to be a heartbreaking moment for both of them.

BBB is so much fun. I so love the scene when Xander is walking in the hall with all the girls hot on him and all the guys with the WTF look on their faces. HILARIOUS. Sunnydale's day to night issues remind me of LOST and how it would be daytime in one scene and all of a sudden, it's night. One minute, the Xanderites (Willow with that ax again...) are about to take out Cordy and Xander outside the school, and the next? It's dark out. The lunch lady, Joyce and Drusilla are highlights for me in this episode. In the basement, Cordy: "If we die in here, I'm gonna kick your ass...I mean it." And when it all finally comes to an end, I love Cordy's line in Joyce's house: "Boy...that was the best scavanger hunt ever." And taking on Harmony and the sheep..."and I'll date whoever I want to date. No matter how lame he is." Cordy rules.

In Passion, again, the continuity of BtVS is great when Jenny goes to the magic shop to buy the orb of thesela and the shopkeeper says, "Oh, you're in the business. Around Valentines Day, everyone is looking for love potions." Well, it was Valentines Day in Phases, and the love potions (spell) happened in BBB.

I adore David Boreanaz as Angelus. When he is pleading with Joyce to let him see Buffy like a true stalking psycho college boy...it's wonderful. I love his demeanor and self assurance, I love how he looks. Yummy eye makeup and those leather pants...
I think Spike is a little less Spike(ish) due to his confinement to the wheelchair. He's getting tired of Angelus' schtick and mentions he liked the souled one better. If Spike were SPIKE, he may be able to deal with all of this a bit better. But again, Spike has so much humanity in him he's having difficulty dealing with Angelus' "passion" for what he does. His thoughts are, just kill the slayer already, what's with all the drama.

Most of this episode left me breathless. I had forgotten how brutally quick Angelus finished off Jenny in the end. Much more effective than sucking her dry. I felt the fear and dread throughout the episode while he stalked Buffy and her friends. I love his artistic ability showing up so early in Angel lore. It was like I was in a trance. When Giles got home and saw the rose on the door, I tensed up and truly dreaded what was coming. I was watching with my hand over my eyes. I remember looking at how much of the episode was left after Giles called Buffy's house and Buffy and Willow broke down, thinking...it's over. I had forgotten that there was the big fight scene and gravesite scene coming.

One thing I find amazing in Buffyverse is how quickly everyone gets a headstone. When I watched "Dead Like Me", I remember it taking about a year to get the headstone made and placed after death. Who knows what's right, but I don't think it happens as quickly as it does here in Sunnydale.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

One more thing, I downloaded BtVS soundtrack by Christophe Beck and the Angel soundtrack "Live Fast and Die Never" by Robert J. Kral (with one song by Christophe Beck) last week as a gear up for these episodes. I was listening last week to the music and loved the Xander violin music from BBB, the title is "Twice the Fool", and I had a hard time remembering where it came in the episode, as I had not started watching this week's eps yet. When I watched the episode a few days later, it was so much fun to listen and see where the music really fit in. The song entitled "Remembering Jenny" is haunting and beautiful. Thanks to Steve Halfyard for the wonderful music analysis. I so love good soundtracks/orchestrations (I own all of Giacchiano's LOST soundtracks), because when it's done right, when listening, it's like watching the show in your heart.

Lesley C said...

Thanks, Missy! I knew Angel must have gone to Giles' house but I couldn't remember when. So, Xander's house and Cordelia's house should be Angel-proof, right? I think if I were Buffy and Willow I would have found a way to have a sleepover someplace else until Giles had researched a reversal the vampire invite clause.

Also - if I ever find a cream-colored envelope sitting someplace in my condo I AM NOT OPENING IT. Is the art ability of Angel/Angelus something we'll see more of?

Missy said...

Angel/us is quite Artistic
Expect it to show up again and again :)
In the near future another Character will display some rather amazing drawing skills too.

Marebabe said...

@Lisa (ufn): 3-6 months is the typical lead time to get a grave stone engraved and in place. This is just another example of TV efficiency, like a trial and conviction happening in one day. I guess we're just supposed to go with it.

Stacy said...

Well I'm a new watcher and I am gasping at least once an episode. No idea Oz was a werewolf. I keep wishing they had cell phones to keep in touch with each other more efficiently. ha.

I have forged ahead into season 3 and am dying to read/discuss season 2 finale. I am SO glad I started this show. Also, kudos to cheesemaster? and the ones doing the music analysis. LOVE THAT.

JavaChick said...

Phases and Bewitched are both fun episodes. We see Willow and Oz finally get together in Phases (right there with you on the Willow & Oz love), and then in Bewitched we see Xander and Cordy become a real couple. I was thinking last night, as I sat down to watch Passion, that it almost sets you up to expect a happy ending for Giles & Jenny as well. Knowing what's coming, no matter how many times I've seen the episode, I can feel my heart start breaking as soon as I see Giles finding that rose on his apartment door.

Also heart breaking is Buffy decking Giles, then hugging him, in tears, saying that she needs him. There is no doubt that he is more that just her watcher.

Suzanne said...

Thanks to Nikki, Steve, Rhonda, and David for all of the wonderful discussions of Buffy this week. As usual, I am finding Steve's analysis of the musical themes very interesting even though I don't have a background in music, and I have never put as much thought into the musical themes as I have into the visual aspects or especially as I have put into the thematic aspects found in the word play. Yet, this is a new angle to viewing Buffy that I find fascinating.

I was excited to see David's comments about BBB and the way that he interpreted the looks on many of the faces of the men in the hallways as indicating they were under Xander's spell, too. I also interpreted it that way the very first time I saw BBB, one of my favorite humorous episodes. However, after my family and I watched it the first time, we thought that maybe the men weren't under his spell since they never chased him or seemed to hit on him the way the women did. My son teased me a bit the next time we watched it, saying "Mom, I can't believe you thought the boys were under the spell -- look at how angry they look. They are jealous." I agreed with him at that point and chalked their looks up to jealousy or disbelief; however, it nagged at me a bit that the first few faces we see were smiling faces that seemed to be ogling him in the same way the women were doing. Then, watching it this last time, I also wondered about Oz's statement, which David pointed out, when he says something about feeling an urge to hit Xander. Now that I have read David's interpretation, all of the pieces seem to fit so much better. I definitely agree that the men were having subconscious feelings that most of them were displaying as aggression in an attempt to hide their true feelings.

Suzanne said...

Some of my favorite moments from these episodes (many of which have been mentioned by Nikki and others) are when Willow reassures Oz in Phases that it doesn't change her mind about him knowing that he is a werewolf and Oz's reaction to her, which highlights what we all love about Willow -- she is so human; Cordelia's moment in BBB when she goes to her locker to "retrieve" the necklace, and we see her taking it out of her blouse where she had tucked it inside as if she were protecting something very precious to her with a fleeting look of regret on her face -- a moment that gives a real reason to finally love Cordy, not to mention her awesome speech to Harmony about sheep; Xander doing the Saturday Night Fever walk down the school hallway in slow mo and his look of regret back through the library window at Buffy when he realizes she was under a spell in BBB (I think this was when he first realized it was a spell by the way because remember they had set up a hint in an early episode, possibly phases, where Buffy said something that hinted at a very slight possibility for the two of them so he may have believed her at first); Joyce pounding on the back door and saying "Let Joycee in" and then his encounter with Drucilla where she says to Angel "If you harm a hair on this boy's head ..." followed by a pack of wild girls with Lunch Lady in tow carrying weapons "saving" him from Drucilla in BBB; and finally all of Passion because as Nikki said, "it is sublime."

If I had to pick a favorite scene in Passion even though it is really an impossible task, I think it might be the frightening exchange between Joyce and Angelus. No matter how many times I see it even knowing the outcome, I am always scared to death for Joyce. Also, as a mother of teenage girl myself, I find the concept of having a scary, stalker-like older man confronting me in this way about my daughter deeply frightening. The scene was played so well by both DB and the actress who plays Joyce. Moments like this are what make Buffy so great; it is supposed to be a show in the "horror genre," yet none of the monster/demon elements are what make it scary; the situations that could be real are the ones that stay with you and rock you to the core.

Missy said...

The Cellphone thing is a running gag that WILL be paid off.

David Kociemba said...

@Lisa (until further notice) and Suzanne: In my class, I usually use "The Witch" to talk about the issue of whether Buffy is too femme for the show to be feminist, as some critics seems to believe and, frankly, their argument is aided by the marketing of its star in "laddie" magazines and makeup ads.

But when I teach Laura Mulvey and "gaze theory" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaze#The_Male_Gaze_and_feminist_theory), I use this episode.

As Laura Mulvey puts it, whether “the beauty of the woman as object and the screen space coalesce; she is no longer the bearer of guilt but a perfect product, whose body, stylized and fragmented by close-ups, is the content of the film and the direct recipient of the spectator’s look.” (Mulvey, 490) Such a desiring gaze remakes individuals into products, perfectly repeatable by the industrialized processes of the dream factory. Note how "scripted" the scenes between the women and Xander are, with Buffy coming straight out of porn and Willow out of "Girl Next Door" genres.

Does the series walk the line between acknowledging the appeal of femininity to 16 year old girls while still depicting it as the skillful adoption of a mask and a performing style, not a natural trait? Yes, for in “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” Xander’s hunched shoulders and shifting eyes draw reactions as varied as girls overtly looking him up and down, shaking their hand slowly as if to cool their heated bodies, the turned heads and the pursed lips all highlight, through comedy, what can be taken for granted in the course of the series. Scenes like this one are an important reminder of just how difficult a line all women have to walk, or strut, when it comes to the presentation of their sexuality. And how unused men are to bearing the desiring gaze.

Or, as Mulvey put it, “According to the principles of the ruling ideology and the psychical structures that back it up, the male figure cannot bear the burden of sexual objectification. Man is reluctant to gaze at his exhibitionist like." (488)

After admitting his attraction to the vampire version of Buffy in “Nightmares” (B1010), Xander says that he’s sick and that he needs help. In “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” he gets that help. Xander’s functioned as a viewer in the text to this point. He’s the ordinary boy to whom other characters provide the narrative explanations that the viewers of the series need. So, the series offers some of its male viewers the help it offers to Xander. The series looks at what happens to men who get addicted to this particular kind of desiring gaze.

I'm generally not big into psychoanalytic and mirror phase based theories of media reception, but Whedon was almost certainly exposed to them as a film studies college student. Lord knows, I was in literature classes in undergrad and grad film studies in the late 80s through the end of the 90s. And he did study Hitchcock...

EvaHart said...

Oh my...
I loved, LOVED this weeks episodes. I mean, I have been enjoying watching the episodes each week and reading the posts and discussions but this week I think something clicked. Its like the awesomeness of Buffy has finally hit me. I can confidently say that if I wasn't hooked before, I am now.

This is has to be one of my favourite episodes so far. For so many reasons. I love Willow and Oz. And yes, I was surprised that Oz turned out to be the werewolf, I was convinced it was going to be another monster of the week with Larry. Although when Giles said it could be anyone, and they may not even know it, it did cross my mind that it could be someone we already knew quite well. I even thought it could be Willow due to the emphasis Giles put on about it possibly being female and the fact it attacked Xander and Cody, a couple who Willow obviously has some resentment towards.

It was also good to see the ‘proper’ type of werewolf- not the Twilight version that has completely changed their image in recent years. And although it obviously came before, the scene when he changed really reminded me of George’s transformations in Being Human.

But the highlight had to be the scene with Xander and Larry. Pure genius. It’s been a long time since I laughed so hard at TV programme. The acting was spot on and Nicholas Brendon’s expressions and reactions were brilliant. I look forward to a follow up with Larry and his possible Xander-crush…

I also love the continuity between episodes, references to Witch and The Pack. Buffy questioning how Xander was able to remember what he felt when he possessed was especially amusing, oh and Xander’s staking of Teresa was badass.

I love the character of Xander and all the Xander centric episodes and this one was similarly brilliant. It somehow managed to be both hilarious and heart breaking at the same time, knowing how all the mess had come from his simple desire to be loved. I also think it showed really well how despite the gang are often shown to be very heroic and the good guys they are essentially human. Xander is hurt badly and reacts like any normal person would with anger and hope for revenge.
The part with Cordelia and necklace was also beautiful and being a sucker for detail I just want to know if she got it back after all the spell casting!

I can’t really say much more than how amazing and yet heartbreaking this episode was. The pain I felt when Giles started up those stairs…
Also I thought it would have been interesting (and heartbreakingly ironic) if it was in fact Jenny's death that restored Angelus' soul. Being a female descendant form the girl that he killed causing his curse in the first place, I thought it could be conceivable that the same could happen again. But the real question is will the floppy disk be found? :)

Can’t wait for next week!

Suzanne said...


Thanks for your wonderful explanation of the theory behind what Xander is experiencing in BBB. I have always wondered why Xander didn't seem to try to take advantage of it at first (before it became dangerous) since his reaction goes against the stereotype we usually see in movies and TV when suddenly a formerly geeky boy becomes the center of attention (think Can't Buy Me Love). However, your explanation really makes Xander's seeming uncomfortable attitude from fairly early on in the episode understandable.

As for Buffy, Willow, Jenny, and even Joyce's behavior while under the spell, could it be that they are behaving in a way that a typical teenage boy would perceive as they way a woman in love should act after the boy has seen that stereotype portrayed so often in the movies? Since the spell was cast by a teenage boy (with the help of a witch), it might have impacted the women in a way that would suit his stereotypes of women and their behavior when in love.

Blam said...

I way OMG'd when Jenny's neck was snapped in "Passion" — a moment that echoed throughout the series for me in terms of both its pure tragedy and its (re)assertion that we should not get comfortable with the status quo.

Willow: ... I like you. You're nice and you're funny. And you don't smoke. Yeah, okay, werewolf, but that's not all the time. I mean, three days out of the month I'm not much fun to be around either.

Oz: You are quite the human.

(smiles) So, I'd still if you'd still.

Oz: I'd still. I'd
very still.

So good...

@Nikki: One of my favourite moments of ["BBB"] is where Cordy goes to her locker and quickly slips the necklace off her neck, and looks like she really loves it and it means something to her. For all her big talk and bluster, I think she’s very lonely.

Ha! I read that as "For all her big talk and bustier..." (As a friend of mine said, they call it a bustier 'cause it boosts your tee-yays.)

@Nikki: Did the Lost fans out there notice that the fights in the graveyard always seem to happen next to the Alpert mausoleum?

Yes! Like totally!

@Nikki: Then Willow with her deep sobs falls into Joyce’s arms, while Angelus stands in the bushes, smiling and taking in the sweetness of what he’s watching.

I "love" that moment because it does two excellent things at once: drives home Angel(us)'s creeptastic voyeurism and cinematically delivers the punch of the girls getting the news with far greater impact than if we were in the room with them.

VW: oventn. 1. [oh vent] Exhaust valve for an egg. 2. [uh vent] Nickname for category in the Kitchen Olympics.

Blam said...

@Steve: ... Mr Beck is relatively unusual in TV scoring ... [H]e treats it like a film score ... Things Beck does in this episode also give some insight into his overall approach to scoring. We have episode specific themes (which are essentially restricted to a single episode, although even these do sometimes crop up in a later episode to remind us of something); cross-episode themes, which can go through whole seasons and even across seasons; and as a special category of that, we have love theme variations, reworkings of elements that belong to the love theme to say new things, not always about either Buffy or Angel, but always to do with love.

You're so right. And none of this is nuance that one normally associates with episodic television. What makes these contributions so important to Buffy overall is that they reward constant, close viewing (and re-viewing — including listening, of course), even if one isn't directly aware of the detail, not just by enhancing each episode but by serving as another way, in addition to visual motifs, character bits, dialogue callbacks, and narrative themes, that the series proves to truly be a tapestry.

I'm glad to have someone so knowledgeable writing about the music, Janet/Cheese/Steve, and to see you getting such a positive response from us'n in the peanut gallery, because hopefully it drives home how integral a good (or bad) score can be. Like black-&-white cinematography or color design, music — even though as nominally "artificial" as those visual approaches — can actually add a level of truth, of deeper realism, to what we're experiencing.

VW: prenect — v. [pree nekt] Know in advance how you're going to put something together.

Blam said...

@Marebabe: Watching this show, I suspend my disbelief every episode before we even get to the opening credits.

Ha! Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

@Marebabe: And now I have TWO episodes that I want to watch again right now!

TWO! That is TWO episodes that you want to watch again right now! Ah ah ah ah ah...!

@Lisa(UFN): I so love good soundtracks/orchestrations (I own all of Giacchiano's LOST soundtracks), because when it's done right, when listening, it's like watching the show in your heart.

Wow... So beautifully put!

VW: bininsic — phr. [bin in sik] Quick explanation for lack of activity outside the home.