Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 15: Spoiler Forum

As always, this is the place where you can speak freely about Buffy or Angel without worry of spoiling anyone else. However, I'd like to add one caveat to that that I haven't mentioned yet. Please refrain from talking about the season 8 comics. This is more selfish than anything else, but I've only read up to the Twilight arc and not beyond it, and I don't want to be spoiled. There have been a few comments so far on the comics and I've averted my eyes pretty quickly, but I'm always reading with one eye open these days hoping I don't see something by accident.

This week's episodes contained a lot of seeds of the future, from Faith's break with Buffy to the Mayor, and Vamp Willow being a sign of a Willow to come... Also, watch when Spike returns in S4: he’ll remember the fuzzy sweater that Willow is wearing in “Lover’s Walk.” And also notice that Buffy says she can fool everyone but herself... and Spike. As if Spike is the only person who truly understands her. Hm...


Lisa(until further notice) said...

Nikki...I haven't read your chapters from Bite Me on this again, so I'm not sure if it's mentioned, but I have a question about Spike. In Lover's Walk, was this initially supposed to be the end of Spike? His driving off like that really seemed like the writers brought him back to put a happy ending on his arc and send him away. I wonder if fans got involved at this point and demanded the return of Spike and therefore he was brought back in season 4 as a "guest" of the Initiative.

Dusk said...

@ Lisa: I thought he was, from what I've read James had no idea he was going tocome back and they needed to balance the show out after Angel and Cordy left, so Spike being a vamp, but also with snark, got him and upgrade.

Tat said...

I read that Joss said that it was after this episode he decided to bring Spike back for good because Marsters had such good chemistry with the cast.

Lovers Walk is the episode that got me hooked on Buffy when it first aired. I had been watching in on and off before that, but this one made me tune in every week (and then I had to wait until season 4 before Spike came back). It had everything, humor, pain, snark, angst, Joyce and Spike (always a winner).

One thing I noticed in retrospect, aside from what he does to Buffy in "Seeing Red" Spike inadvertently does more damage to the Scoobie team in this episode than he ever did or will do the whole time he's evil.

Tom D. said...

Revelations/Lovers Walk/The Wish is arguably the best set of three consecutive episodes in the whole series. I feel like Revelations is underrated.

I like Gwendolyn Post as an antagonist: she's not only a clever con artist, but she really messes with the relationships between Buffy and Giles and Faith, which is a pretty good achievement for a single-episode villain.

Nikki contrasts Xander's public criticism of Buffy in this episode with Giles's one-on-one confrontation. Unlike Nikki, I think Giles is being way harsh in that scene. "You have no respect for me, or the job I perform." Come on, that's just not true. Buffy's secrecy about Angel had very little if anything to do with her respect for Giles. And sure, Giles sort of has a right to be harsh, given how he was tortured by Angelus both physically and emotionally. But what he says to Buffy in that scene is not particularly apt or helpful. It looks and sounds to me more like a reassertion of his authority as watcher, and a distancing of himself from Buffy -- which he is doing because Gwendolyn Post has made him feel inadequate.

By bringing this out in Giles, Mrs. Post drives something of a wedge between him and Buffy. Obviously the distance between the two of them is going to grow later on, and he's going to become less fatherly than he has been in some of the earlier episodes (especially the end of Innocence). I wonder whether this should be seen as the beginning of the split between Buffy and Giles -- a precursor to Helpless.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Post also co-opts Faith. Being a very insightful con artist, she seems to slice right through Faith's defensive, cooler-than-thou exterior that seems to keep everyone else (particularly Buffy) out. Mrs. Post gives Faith just what she seems to psychologically need: an authority figure, a promise of things like order and stability and boundaries and leadership. By letting us see how Faith responds to Mrs. Post, the show sets up how she's going to respond to the Mayor in much the same way, so that her turn toward villainy won't seem to come "out of the blue" when it happens.

Incidentally, I like how Mrs. Post subtly disparages Giles by removing the teabag from her teacup when he's trying to serve her tea, and getting her own tea leaves out of her purse.

Of course, in the end all of Mrs. Post's ingenuity is deployed for the underwhelming purpose of acquiring an extremely unfashionable accessory that she can never remove, which apparently has the power to shoot lightning at her enemies. Maybe she should have just bought a gun instead and saved herself a lot of trouble. But no, I have to assume the glove can do a lot more than what we're shown. There's a moment when Willow and Xander are looking in one of the books, and they seem rather horrified to learn what the glove can do. We never find out what that is, but surely it's something more than just "it shoots lightning."

At the end of Revelations, the scene between Buffy and Faith -- Buffy says "I didn't have a choice" about concealing Angel's return from everyone. That's really, really untrue. I wonder if that scene, and Buffy and Faith's whole relationship, would have gone differently if Buffy was more able to admit to having made a wrong choice, and thereby to be a bit more vulnerable and humble. Although Faith of course has her own faults, I can sympathize with her having trouble connecting with Buffy, who has been pretty private and closed-off during much of Season 3 so far.

I wonder if Buffy and Angel have ever really talked, off-screen, about her sending him to hell and what that was actually like for each of them. I don't think they ever really have that conversation on screen. You might think it would have happened at some point before they started kissing again. But I guess kissing is easier than talking, with some people.

Tom D. said...

Lovers Walk is so full of great Willow and Spike moments, I hardly know what to say.

I think this is the first episode where we really see how likeable the Mayor can be. He had some cute scenes in earlier episodes, talking about the importance of cleaning under one's fingernails and keeping one's campaign promises (to demons), but his one scene in Lovers Walk really helps to define him and make him something more than a sinister politician.

First there's the bit where he's putting, and he misses, and he remarks that it's not the carpet -- it's him. This line shows us that the Mayor is someone who's basically honest with himself, takes responsibility for his mistakes -- he doesn't share in the common vice of reflexively shifting blame onto third parties and outside forces. That's an admirable quality, regardless of the fact that the Mayor isn't a good guy.

Second, there's the bit where he second-guesses himself about whether a loose cannon rocking the boat is a mixed metaphor. He is endearingly nerdy -- pondering this random linguistic question just a bit too seriously, but still in a good-humored way. I would totally have that type of conversation with a friend -- although in the Mayor's case it's more of a monologue, because his aide is so scared of him. All in all, in hindsight, I think this scene was the one that really established that the Mayor is a great villain. (I tend to agree with the many who think he's the best Buffy villain.)

On another note, I don't normally say much about the relative merits of Buffy/Spike, Buffy/Angel, or any of Buffy's other romantic relationships compared to each other. But one thing that really struck me about Buffy/Angel in the last couple of episodes, and really in all of season 3 so far, is that there aren't a lot of satisfying conversations between them. Not a lot seems to be happening, on a verbal level, in their relationship. Contrast that with Spike, who comes in and gives them this great eloquent semi-drunk speech about how love is blood screaming inside you to work its will, and I may be love's bitch but I'm man enough to admit it. This episode gives us a lot more understanding of why Spike is still hopelessly in love with Drusilla, than why Buffy and Angel are still in love with each other.

It kind of makes me want Buffy and Spike to get back together -- about which I could say more, but it would involve spoiling Nikki, who isn't up to speed on season 8 yet.

Without saying how season 8 ends, I'll note that it's been announced that the season 9 comics will have two main titles, one of which is Buffy and the other is Angel and Faith. Apropos of that, it's interesting to see Angel and Faith meeting for the first time in Revelations. Considering how much those two characters are going to do for each other later on, it's perhaps noteworthy that Faith kicked his ass and nearly staked him when they first met.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I think the opening for Spike came when Oz left.

Giles seems to have difficulties with women in authority (Ms. Post, Prof. Walsh...) Or maybe it's because they're just nasty people.

Angel trains with Buffy the way he later will with Cordy. (kerumption)

The gang sidelines Buffy with an intervention about Angel. Later they will about Spike (because of the Buffybot) and to kick her out of the house in season 7. It's a ganging up kind of gang.

There's an axe in Revelations that looks like Buffy's scythe.

Faith is adamant about going to kill Angel, but later he's the only one who would give her a break. I think the comics tie in there, but lips zipped.

In LW, Xander makes a reference to him and Buffy 'managing the drive-thru window.' He doesn't know how right he is in Buffy's case.

It's exciting to see the introduction of The Magic Box, which will become such an integral part of the show. We saw another magic shop before, but it was below ground level and not the same building.

Cordy says Buffy should leave and never come back - but Cordy does and doesn't. Angel is also the one to leave, not Buffy.

We see Willow really starting to rely on magic, not just to make changes in the physical world, but the emotional one.

Spike's 'never be friends' speech really sounds like foreshadowing to me. I think that's exactly how he feels about Buffy, and I think her feelings are stronger than she ever lets on (at least until it's too late.)

Angel, Spike and Buffy are trapped in the Magic Box, surrounded by vampires - shades of Tabula Rasa.

Spike says "Love's a funny thing." Words that will come back to bite his little tushy.

When Anya is introduced she seems like a normal girl, speaking in a normal way (which makes sense, considering the manipulative nature of her occupation), not the literal, odd speech pattern she'll demonstrate after this.

Buffy's been in Cleveland - and we know from the finale that there's a Hellmouth there.

The wish that Xander will "never know the touch of a woman" is ironic, since he'll know Anya's quite well.

Tom D. said...

We see Willow really starting to rely on magic, not just to make changes in the physical world, but the emotional one.

Also it's interesting that she chooses to try to do the "de-lusting" spell without Xander's consent. Seems like an odd choice to make -- she might well have been able to persuade him to agree to it -- but I guess it reflects something in Willow's personality, the same thing that will later ruin her relationship with Tara. Does she just have difficulty confronting difficult emotional situations, such that she would rather use magical mind control to avoid them, even though she must know it's wrong?

Come to think of it, that doesn't sound altogether different from Buffy's own tendency to hide things. If Buffy's supernatural powers let her affect people's minds instead of kicking their asses, maybe she'd have made the same mistakes Willow makes.

Nikki Stafford said...

Lisa: Originally Spike was only supposed to last a few episodes in S2. In the What's My Line episodes, when the church falls down and we see Drusilla, newly strengthened and emerging from the ruins carrying Spike, that scene was altered from the original idea of having the church kill Spike. Then Dru was to be restored, she'd go all crazy and join forces with Angel, and eventually she'd be killed in the finale before Angel was sent to Hell. But Spike was such a popular character that they let him live through the church thing and realized they could find a great exit for both him and Dru at the end of the season without killing either one. Problem is, after that they didn't have room for him in the show. So, knowing what a fan fave he was, they brought him back in S3, saw how amazing he still was without Drusilla or Angelus, and that solidified their decision to bring him back as a key character in S4 and beyond.

I adore season 3, but admittedly, it's just not the same without Spike.

Nikki Stafford said...

Tom: Excellent post on Revelations! I loved it. You really got to the heart of Faith, something that we haven't talked much about in the rewatch yet.

In the Giles/Buffy scene, though, I remember the first time I saw it I thought, like you, that it was incredibly harsh. His comment that she has no respect for him or the duty he performs really cut deep and stuck with me. So, on this rewatch, it's one thing I've had in the back of my mind. And if you watch it, she cracks jokes whenever he talks, she wants to go out and hang with friends, she treats him like a fuddy-duddy, she kicks his ass during training then wipes her hands and walks away... she doesn't respect him as her Watcher. She DOES respect him as a father-figure and someone she cannot live without, as in Passion, but that's not what he's saying here. She doesn't respect him as her Watcher or show any deference to him, which as we've seen with Kendra, a Slayer is expected to do.

But it's that sass that makes Buffy who she is. While Giles says what he does here, and it's true, he realized in Helpless that maybe it's not the duty he performs that should be respected, but the way he performs it. And he realizes also that she DOES respect him in that capacity. So it all comes around. I find that the scene here is resolved in that later episode (and I plan to talk about it in light of that one).

But again, excellent commentary, thank you!

Suzanne said...

@Tom D, I , too, have often wondered during this rewatch why didn't see a scene with Buffy talking to Angel about what happend in Becoming Part II. It bothers me that we didn't get to see it since it seems like it would have been a very important conversation for them to have.

Suzanne said...

In addition to many of the moments of foreshadowing already mentioned, I got a kick out of a few more:

It was fun seeing Anya and Cordy together looking over at Xander disdainfully knowing that each of them either had or would have good reason to look at him this way during the course of the series. This might be the only time we see these two characters together, too, which was fun.

When Cordy and Buffy were talking in the alley in "The Wish," I enjoyed hearing Cory question the reason why everything always happens to her and essentially asking "why me" since it made me think of her role on Angel and the way she becomes "chosen" in a sense that is similar to Buffy.

The scene with Spike and Willow in "Lover's Walk" reminded me of a later scene they will have in a dorm room in what I seem to remember is Season 4; the scene I remember (can't remember the episode) has the same wonderful combination of humor and chilling horror that this scene with them does.

Lastly, this one is more of a call back to an earlier episode, but when I saw Vamp Xander, I couldn't help but be reminded of Hyena Xander from Season 1.

(On a totally unrelated note to my post above, Nikki, I agree that as much as I adore Season 3, I have a hard time considering it my favorite since we see so little of Spike!)

Unknown said...

@Tom D.--I agree that Gwendolyn Post is an amazing one-time villain. Not only does she really do some damage, but she is also so obnoxious. I like the sound cue of the teapot coming to a steam just as Giles is ready to explode at her! I totally agree with your comments about Faith and her later relationship with the Mayor. Gwendolyn post's subtle, and terribly effective comments about the Spartans (and Faith's echo of them at the end of the ep to Buffy) simultaneously make me marvel at her evil genius, and feel sorry that Faith is so easily and masterfully manipulated.

I don't think Buffy and Angel ever talked about it either. They are not talkers. I agree with your assessment of the nonverbal with those two and the more verbal Spike. Makes sense in light of what we know about William's wordsmithing past.

I haven't gotten my hands on the last installment of Season 8 yet so don't spoil me either!

Colleen/redeem: Wouldn't you gang up too if you had to confront a slayer? LOL I am thinking of that scene where Giles and Oz tie Buffy up for some reason and they realize someone's gonna have to check the ropes. . .

I like to pretend all the Magic Boxes are the same, despite the obvious difference with its first appearance. I live in denial, it's nice here:)

I like your observations about Willow and her use of magic here. . .

OK, so I thought when I watched this episode, yes, Buffy/Spike do have amazing chemistry. But I don't really think they have latent romantic feelings at this point. Is that what you're saying, or do you mean, in the future?

Tom D. said...

Buffy and Spike might not have actual romantic feelings for each other at this point, but she may well have unconsciously noticed that he is very attractive, and vice versa.

Come to think of it, Spike boinking Buffy three seasons from now is pretty good revenge for Angelus's seduction of Dru last season.

I feel compelled to keep disagreeing (at least partially) with Nikki about whether Buffy really disrespects Giles and/or the job he performs. Nikki, you seem to be saying that Buffy respects Giles as a father figure (as seen during some emotional moments in season 2) but not as a watcher, because of the way she treats him like a fuddy-duddy and makes jokes while he is providing exposition, rather than being deferential like Kendra.

I guess where my perception differs is that Buffy's joking toward Giles doesn't feel disrespectful to me. It seems warm and lighthearted, just relaxing and being her teenage self, and totally consistent with the fact that (at this point) she loves him as a father figure. As you put it, it's the sass that makes Buffy who she is.

Perhaps, though, it's harder for Giles not to feel disrespected when Buffy makes so many jokes at his expense. Especially after her running away over the summer without a word to him, and of course the revelation about Angel that led to this confrontational moment. So even though I think it's objectively untrue that Buffy has no respect for Giles as a watcher, Giles may well be justified in feeling that she has no respect.

I still think, though, that whatever feelings he has about all that are exacerbated by Mrs. Post making him feel like an inadequate watcher, and that's a significant part of the reason why Giles is so harsh with Buffy in that scene.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Is that what you're saying, or do you mean, in the future?

Oh, in the future. Though Dru would later say it was his obsession with Buffy that would make her leave. But it is a good description of how he will feel.