Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Buffy Rewatch: Week 30

5.4 Out of My Mind
5.5 No Place Like Home
5.6 Family

Follow along in Bite Me! on pp. 252-255.

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

2.4 Untouched
2.5 Dear Boy
2.6 Guise Will Be Guise

(Week 30?! Wow.) This week’s episodes actually work well together. Last season the gang was split up in ways they had never dealt with before – Giles was no longer a librarian; Willow and Buffy were at university (with Willow in her element and Buffy feeling lost and disconnected); Xander had to move into a construction job; Cordelia and Angel were gone. But as they had to reposition themselves within each other’s lives, they not only realized they still needed each other (shown concretely in their defeat of Adam by working together, and metaphorically throughout the season), but they also began to change their priorities. In short, they began to grow up. Willow discovered a new love with Tara, and said goodbye to Oz. Buffy realized Angel had a new life in L.A., and through Riley and the Initiative and a new spirituality discovered at the end of the season, became keen to learn more about where she came from.

Season 5 is where the characters take what they learned about themselves in season 4 and move forward, rather than being stuck the way they were for much of S4. Giles decided he was no longer needed in Sunnydale, but found a new purpose in season 5. Spike begins to fall in love with Buffy in this week’s episodes (making “Spuffy” shippers everywhere squee very loudly). And then there’s that whole new sister thing.

So in the episodes we watched this week, the characters begin to discover a new sense of where they are in their lives and in each other’s lives. Riley, poor put-upon Riley, is the one who feel like he doesn’t actually belong. I’ve never liked Riley, which is obviously no secret around here, but I found when I began watching in season 4 this time around that I immediately felt sorry for him, and the episodes we watch this week encapsulate why. While he can still be annoying – Jane Espenson’s dry wit in “The Replacement” just fell flat when coming out of Riley’s mouth – the moment he opens up to Xander at the end of that episode and sadly, yet directly, tells him that Buffy doesn’t love him really changes him. I don’t want Buffy with him any more than I ever did, but I feel badly about his misery. That said, there’s something about the scene in “Out of My Mind” where Buffy tells Riley that she’s never been closer to anyone, that she’s never opened up to anyone the way she has to him, that is entirely disingenuous. Unless the majority of their relationship has been kept from us (or her phrase “opening up” had a sexual meaning and wasn’t referring to conversations), it just falls flat. But it doesn’t change the sadness in Riley that, where everyone else is finding their new place within the group, his place is out of it.

Spike, on the other hand, for the first time actually wants to be a part of the Scoobs, although this longing is largely against his will. In “No Place Like Home” he begins milling around Buffy’s haunts – Spike telling Buffy what he’s doing in five words or less. “Out for a walk. Bitch.” remains one of my favourite moments of the entire season – and where she doesn’t yet realize what he’s up to, watching him pine after the person he hates the most is very funny to watch. But don’t worry, Joss won’t let you down. He’ll soon bring the pain on that one, too.

(And on a totally unrelated side note, this week also brings Giles in the wizard hat. Part of me has been waiting the entire rewatch for the Giles in the wizard hat scene. I think it's that oddly serene look on his face and the face he just stands there in his full wizard nerdly glory. Perfect. It's right up there with Fiesta Giles at Halloween, pulling the little string in the Frankenstein monster doll.)

Family, as Tanya Cochran will beautifully outline in her commentary below, is about how the family we make is more important than the one we’re born into. “Family” was never a huge favourite of mine, but I know other fans absolutely love it. I don’t dislike it, it just felt a little preachier than I like my Buffy to be. But I never fail to feel my breath catch with that last image of Tara and Willow floating above the dance floor. Where Riley feels like he’s not part of the gang, and he might be right, Tara’s paranoia that everyone will hate her when they find out who she really is, is entirely misplaced, an evil seed planted there by a vindictive family. And, I mean, AMY ADAMS! (I’d entirely forgotten she was in this episode!) A future Oscar nominee right here on Buffy. Not to mention Herc from Friday Night Lights playing Tara’s brother (he also had a quick appearance on Lost as Jerry, the dude in 1970s Dharmaville who gets caught dancing with Rosie in the security station).

But as Buffy’s outside family becomes more stable, her “biological” one begins to fall apart. She discovers that Dawn isn’t actually her sister, a fact that is devastating, despite the half-joking wish that Dawn would just disappear. To Buffy, Dawn has always been there. It would be like you discovering your sibling didn’t actually exist and had been recently planted in your life, despite the lifetime of memories in your head. And while she’d like to think Dawn is a supernatural force that is hurting her mother, what is afflicting Joyce appears to be an old-fashioned real medical problem. When it comes to vampires, monsters, and Big Bads, no one can slay them like Buffy. But her house has been invaded by something she can’t fight, and for the first time, she is utterly helpless.

This week I’m pleased to welcome back Tanya Cochran, who was last here in season 3, discussing Doppelgangland, Enemies, and Earshot. Take it away, Tanya!

Family Is Thicker Than Blood: Buffy and Choosing Lasting Bonds
Tanya R. Cochran

A few weeks ago, my sister Cynthia arrived at the airport for an early morning flight. As she stood in the security line, she glanced over her shoulder and caught a glimpse of someone she thought looked familiar. She glanced again. The man grinned and stepped in line behind her. The conversation went something like this:

Cynthia: Are you who I think you are?
Man: I don’t know. Who do you think I am?
Cynthia: Well, if you’re who I think you are, my sister’s gonna freak out.
Man: Well, if your sister’s a Buffy fan, she’s gonna freak out.

Thus, a pleasant encounter with actor Marc Blucas, Buffy’s Riley Finn, followed. When my sister asked if he’d give her an autograph for me, he didn’t hesitate. And he didn’t just jot his name down; he took the time to personalize: “Tanya—Rumor has it . . . you’re a pretty serious Buffy fan—which probably means you hate me.” When Cynthia called me and read the whole message, I laughed at the first part because it’s true that many fans of the series don’t like Riley—at least, don’t like Riley with Buffy. As I rewatched “Out of My Mind,” “No Place Like Home,” and “Family,” however, Blucas’s comment kept nagging at me, eventually pushing me to think more deeply than ever before about what this week’s episodes (and the Buffyverse as a whole) teach us about who and what defines family.

“Out of My Mind,” as you know, follows two central storylines: Riley’s failing heart and Spike’s pesky chip (Joyce’s loss of consciousness is important too). The character that brings the two together is the doctor who can fix Riley and whom Spike hopes can fix him as well—which is why Spike and Harmony kidnap him. There are, as always, lots of great lines of dialogue I wish I had time to mention, but in the interest of time, space, and bits for you yourselves to discuss later, I will cut right to the part I admire the most, the part I think relates to who and what defines family.

If you’re watching on DVD, the scene selection feature allows you to choose “What A Girl Wants,” which begins at 27:53. Of course, the titling of the scene is itself significant. What does Buffy want? On the surface, she wants to find and convince Riley to see the doctor. The other Scoobies are also out looking. Riley has made himself scarce, avoiding the inevitable—avoiding Buffy and telling her the truth of what he feels. He can’t hide forever, though. Buffy finally discovers him in the abandoned Initiative caves, his knuckles bleeding from punching the jagged walls:

Buffy: This stops now. I’m taking you to the doctor.
Riley: The one from the government, you mean? Like the ones who did this to me in the first place?
Buffy: He’s the only one that understands what’s wrong with you. He’s the only one that can help.
Riley: What’s wrong with me? I’m more powerful than I’ve ever been, Buffy. Most people would kill to feel this way.
Buffy: Yeah, and this feeling is going to kill you. Riley, your body was not built for this kind of strength. . . .
Riley: I go back . . . let the government get whimsical with my innards again . . . They could do anything that— Best-case scenario: they turn me into Joe Normal. Just . . . just another guy.
Buffy: And that’s not enough for you?
Riley: It’s not enough for you. . . . Your last boyfriend wasn’t exactly a civilian.
Buffy: So that’s what this is about? You’re going to die, all over some macho pissing contest.
Riley: It’s not about him. It’s about us. You’re getting stronger every day, more powerful. I can’t touch you. Every day, you’re just . . . a little further out of my reach.
Buffy: You wanna touch me? I’m right here. I’m not the one running away.
Riley: Not yet.
Buffy: So you have this all figured out? I’m bailing because you’re not in the super club.
Riley: It’s human nature.
Buffy: Don’t Psych 101 me. Not now. Not after everything that . . . Nobody has ever known me the way you do. Nobody. I’ve opened up to you in ways that I’ve never opened up to . . . God, you’re just sitting back there thinking that none of this means anything to me.
Riley: I never said that.
Buffy: Because it obviously doesn’t mean anything to you. Do you really think so little of me—
Riley: Buffy.
Buffy: No! No. Do you think that I spent the last year with you because you had super powers? If that’s what I wanted, then I’d be dating Spike. Riley, I need you. I need you with me . . . and I need you healthy. But if you wanna throw it all away because you don’t trust me, then . . . then I’m still gonna make you go to that doctor.

There are obviously many layers to this exchange—double meanings, foreshadowings, and more. I want us to consider only one layer, one reading.

What does Buffy want? I think Riley and Buffy are very likely talking less about their romantic relationship and more about Riley’s place in the Scooby Gang—in the family. Also, there are hints of deeply embedded assumptions about masculinity and femininity. For example, I see a man uncomfortable with loss of power and unaccustomed to the likelihood that he will have to ask for help in the near future, that he won’t be able to do as much by or for himself. I see a man afraid of relinquishing the filter through which he sees himself as protector and provider. I see a man who even after a year of dating and working alongside Buffy still doesn’t comprehend how the Scooby family works and doesn’t understand that he’s needed by that family, and he’s needed not just for what he can do but for who he is. It’s difficult for me to fault Riley for not “getting it,” though. After all, he once thought of the Initiative as family, and look how that institution (dys)functioned! [1]

One of the many reasons I believe this scene from “Out of My Mind” focuses on family and not just romance is because of an idea Reid Locklin proposes in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Domestic Church: Revisioning Family and the Common Good.” Locklin argues that (a) family and community are not necessarily exclusive of one another and (b) “the writers and producers of [Buffy] . . . used it as a venue to develop an alternative vision of the North American family, a vision that clearly refuses to sever family from the common good” (par. 2 ). In Televised Morality: The Case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gregory Stevenson helps us understand Locklin even better by suggesting that “what makes a family of value on Buffy is the ethic that binds it together. A family (whether traditional or created) is a community, and the same ethic that guides a successful community (sacrifice, mutual dependence, loyalty, etc.) is the primary determinant of a successful family” (151).

In this episode’s “What A Girl Wants” scene, Buffy provides very convincing evidence that the Scooby family and the common good coexist: “Riley, I need you. I need you with me . . . and I need you healthy. But if you wanna throw it all away because you don’t trust me, then . . . then I’m still gonna make you go to that doctor.” Essentially, Buffy tells Riley that even if he doesn’t understand how much she and the gang love and need him—for who he is—she will still make sure that he survives. In other words, his survival benefits not only the Scoobies but also the world. Even if they weren’t to make it as a couple, Buffy wants Riley to exist—for the common good. As the result of the Rewatch, I have been persuaded to say something I never thought I’d say (though I never hated him): the world of Buffy is better place with Riley Finn in it. In “Out of My Mind,” what Riley must see for himself is that very fact. If he cannot bring himself to trust Buffy and the others completely, continue to sacrifice for the good of all, and remain loyal to the gang, he won’t ever be an authentic member of the family. By his choice.

As convincing as Buffy is (Riley agrees to let the doctor fix his heart), her own ideas about family take a serious blow in “No Place Like Home” when she comes to realize that Dawn is not her sister but a mass of energy molded into human form. Dawn doesn’t know this, however. She is, according to the dying monk who explains the history of the Key, ignorant and innocent. Feelings of being violated (imagine discovering that your own memories are not authentic, that they have been invented and implanted in your mind) at first seem to overwhelm Buffy. But the idea of family and the common continue to prevail. The final scene of this episode moves me deeply: Buffy sitting on Dawn’s bed, asking for Dawn’s forgiveness, and running her fingers through Dawn’s hair. Buffy knows what she has to do. “Real” sister or not, Dawn must be protected—as family—for Buffy’s own good and the good of the entire world.

That “Family” comes on the heels of “No Place Like Home” seems to me intentional on Whedon’s part, especially now, after rewatching the series several times. Dawn and Tara share many feelings about not fitting into the Scooby Gang, about not being useful, about not being loved and accepted—ultimately, about not being family. It takes an extraordinary threat to change Buffy’s perspective about Dawn, and it takes a mundane (but no less real or powerful) threat to change some of the Scoobies’ perspectives about Tara.

You know the story, because it’s not only Tara’s story. It’s the story of an imbalance and misuse of power, an imbalance and misuse that favors men over and sometimes instead of women. And the theme of family and the common good are inextricable from this attention paid to patriarchy. According to Candace Havens, Whedon highlights one of the series “mission statements” in “Family”: “Your family can be difficult and cruel, . . . but you have the power to create your own family. Your new family can be more important, more real, than the family you are born into” (74). Though we know that Whedon avoids making the “very special episode,” he himself says of “Family” that it is “as much of a didactic message show as I’ve ever done” (qtd. in Havens 75). Unlike the American television after-school specials of my teen years, however, Whedon doesn’t wag a finger at us about the typical topics (sex, drugs, and rock and roll). Instead, he preaches about family:

When we created the show, they said, “Do you want [Buffy’s] family?” and I said, “Well, mom and whatnot, but basically she has a family. Her father is Giles, her sister is Willow, and it’s already in place.” I had some things go on in my life that made me say, “I really want to get this message out, that it’s not about blood.” Tara was the perfect vehicle for that. (qtd. in Havens 75)

So when Tara’s father, brother, and cousin come to take her home, using what Spike calls “a bit of spin to keep the ladies in line,” Buffy and the others finally make a decision about who Tara is to them, clearing up any doubt Tara has been harboring about whether or not she’s an authentic member of the Scooby Gang, the family. Tara’s father insists that being “blood kin” trumps the loose bonds of friendship. Because of what she now knows about Dawn, more than ever before Buffy knows otherwise. [2]

Here’s what I love most about the final confrontation with Tara’s kin: the face-off represents a decision rather than a negotiation. Sometimes, negotiations are useful, even required. But not when it comes to the value of a human being. Jes Battis reminds us that when Buffy declares, “We’re family,” she points us to “the motif of surrogacy and choice that weaves its way throughout the [entire] show” (17, emphasis added). Family, more than any other theme, is the grand and, therefore, unifying narrative of the series: “It is the sense of belonging that these exiles achieve, and the omega-power that not only infuses, but makes possible, their efforts to push back apocalypse” (18).

Being someone who has herself created a chosen family, I find these episodes especially moving and, yes, didactic or teach-y in the best of ways. I think that’s why Marc Blucas’s comment about hating him because of hating Riley really bothers me. I know, Riley is just a character on a TV show. Yet Buffy obviously influences our lives. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be having these Rewatch conversations. So it matters that Blucas continues to feel a transferred sense of dislike from fans. Maybe I’m making too much out of a simple autograph, a note that was meant to be humorous. For me, though, it’s not funny. Rather, it’s a reminder of Whedon’s “mission statement” about choosing (or not choosing) family, the common good, and lasting bonds: it’s all about power—the power of choice. [3]

[1] Gregory Stevenson notes that characters use the term family twice in Season Four to describe the Initiative—in “This Year’s Girl” and “The Yoko Factor” (151).
[2] Locklin and Stevenson both remind us that not all families—blood and/or chosen—are created equal. For instance, the vampires Angelus, Drusilla, Darla, and Spike are also referred to as family (par. 6; 151). See also Locklin, pars. 16-21, for a discussion of some of the flaws in the Scooby family; after all, no family is perfect.
[3] If you’re really interested in the idea of choice in Whedon’s works, I highly recommend K. Dale Koontz’s Faith and Choice in the Works of Joss Whedon (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008).

Works Cited
Battis, Jes. Blood Relations: Chosen Families in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005. Print.
Havens, Candace. Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy. Dallas: Benbella, 2003. Print.
Locklin, Reid B. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Domestic Church: Revisioning Family and the Common Good.” Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies 2.2 (Sept. 2002): n. pag. Web. 12 July 2011.
Stevenson, Gregory. Televised Morality: The Case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lanham, MD: Hamilton, 2003. Print.

Thank you, Tanya!

Next week: The themes from this week deepen and darken as we move further into the season, the first episode of which is in my top three favourites of season 5.

5.7 Fool for Love
5.8 Shadow
5.9 Listening to Fear

Our guest host will be Rhonda Wilcox, the “Mother of Buffy Studies,” so you are in for a treat!

And just a quick heads up for the Angel followers (and those NOT watching Angel), “Fool for Love” is an episode that has its mirror episode, with similar events told from a different perspective, over on Angel in “Darla.”

2.7 Darla
2.8 The Shroud of Rahmon
2.9 The Trial


Marebabe said...

In the opening fight scene of “Out of My Mind” in the cemetery, I noticed Riley tossing that one vamp onto the roof of a structure and thought it was kind of silly and cartoonish. Little did I know that this episode would be about Riley’s super-ness.

Oh, and by the way? James Marsters shirtless is pretty amazing! It reminded me of the first time we ever saw Daniel Dae Kim’s fabulous physique in LOST. One never knows, does one?

At the beginning of “No Place Like Home”, no comments were made about Giles’ pointy-hat wizard costume. None were needed. In that hilarious moment, I did wonder in passing which photo Nikki would select to illustrate this week’s Buffy post.

So, how are we supposed to refer to Dawn? A supernatural construct? The Key? Buffy’s little sister?

This rewatch is primarily for Buffy, not Angel, but I do have a couple things to say about Angel this week. I was SO GLAD to see Drusilla again, however briefly. It’s like, every scene with Spike and Harmony reminds me how MUCH I miss Dru. And I’ve noticed many times how the picture at the start of an episode on my DVDs (the page with “play episode”, “select a scene”, etc.) can be quite a big spoiler for first-time viewers. At the beginning of “Guise Will Be Guise”, the picture caused me to say to myself, “Oh. Wesley gets some.” I was pleased by the prospect, and at the same time a bit annoyed that this was no longer going to be a complete surprise to me. Of course, I imagine that the people who make the DVD sets never considered the possibility that someone who had never seen the series before would up and purchase the DVDs.

And I loved it when Cordelia said, “Damn skippy!” I’ve always liked how cute that expression sounds, and it’s fallen out of usage in my immediate circle of friends and family. I plan to re-introduce it.

“Family” was excellent. I’m just very glad that Buffy confided in Giles about Dawn, AND that they decided to keep the knowledge to themselves. They’re going to protect Dawn, and that feels right to me.

When I saw “Written and Directed by Joss Whedon”, my (conditioned) response was all “Uh-oh” and forebode-y. False alarm.

Dawn’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it present to Tara was a regular, hardware store, sweeping-up broom! LOL!!

Dusk said...

Ok, I think just about everyone can feel sorry for Riley here, and the gang was in some areas better off with him there, and he's a good guy.

I wonder how many first-timers saw the Spike realization coming.

NPLH had a serious topic and revelations but the humor was awesome. Out. For. A. Walk...Bitch. Is one of the best lines ever. I love wizard Giles and the HP refreces, and Gleeful Retailer Giles.

My biggest comments about Family belong in the other post, but I do love the ending, and Spike's suggestive fantasy fight.

Oh yeah, snuggle-cheat on Tara. Willow asked to be the snugglee but ends up the snuggler at the end of the scene, lol.

Dusk said...

@Marebabe most often she's Buffy's sister, unless their specfically talking of her Keyness, or the New Big Bad that wants it.

She's my favorite Buffy villian, her attitude reminds me of Buffy, and her strength impresses me. And I have more reasons that made her my #1 that we'll see later.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

For any non-Riley fans (holds up hand) who want to see him hawt - try Prey for Rock and Roll with Gina Gershon (who would later play James Marsters' wife in PS I Love You.) Big muscles and prison tats.

Spike says 'cunning' in a Firefly sort of way discussing knitting. Did he make Jayne's hat?

Xander is finding his place - he's doing work for Giles that Giles' can't. In other words - he's better at carpentry than any other Scoobie.

When Harmony says, "You're my only hope" is that a Star Wars reference?

Vampires don't breathe. Why would Harmony choke on cigarette smoke?

Dawn has a lot of bowls looking for the cereal prize - that's why my mom taught me to use a mixing bowl.

I love Spike's coiff - but you can't do brain surgery without shaving the head. You think the doctor has the whole top of his head off, and there's a little bandage on the back of his head when they're done.

I've always thought Harmony and Riley would make a cute couple. There may be fanfic. ;)

Where did the doctor get the penny?

Spike kisses Buffy in his dreams the same way Captain John kisses Captain Jack on Torchwood. John and Jack

Buffy tells Joyce to watch plenty of Oprah. Why is she being punished?

Buffy has to go to the hospital pharmacy? They don't have drug stores in Sunnydale?

Glory makes a tuffet reference - Dawn has had Little Miss Muffet references.

Buffy dresses for her spell - she's wearing a demony t-shirt.

Dawn believes she is who she is - like a doll on Dollhouse (why yes, I was rewatching season one at the time.)

One reason they've made Dawn so annoying so far - so the audience will suspect that she's evil.

The lost kitten could refer to Tara or Dawn - neither of who are in their blood families, which makes them no less real.

I like Giles relaxed fashion sense. No tweed in the Magic Box!

What the heck is an insect reflection?

Was Riley's aversion to the his Initiative buddies all related to his illness, cause they're all friends now.

I love that Spike calls Harmony Sweet Breads - She's a little thymus gland.

Spike says he doesn't care about the Scoobies - but he's the one who sorts out the situation. (ow) And while it causes Tara a little pain, it hurts him too.

See how Spiffy Xander looks at the Bronze!

Are all the Scoobies twenty-one now - cause they're all drinking at the bar.

Page48 said...

After this impressive 3-pack of eppies, is there any remaining doubt remain that Season 5 is going to rock hard with a vengeance?

Giles at the Magic Box isn’t on par with Giles at the library, but it’s such a vast improvement over Giles the “Passions”-watching loafer of S4.

Xander is having a bad hair year.

Spike is up and at ‘em two seconds after brain surgery. I suppose if you’re already dead…

The monks outfitted Dawnie with knowledge of buttholes and howler monkeys. Thorough.

Buffy’s “sister” is Dawnie. Tara’s brother is Donny. I’m a Donny-hater. Both of Tara’s men-folk are real life Rankins. Kevin Rankin was the Marshall Flinkman to Michelle Ryan’s brutally bad “Bionic Woman”.

For the record: I love me some Glory and I love that she reminds Buffy of Cordelia. The Magic Shop stocks something called “The Hand of Glory”, and it packs some serious raw power. No kidding.

“Family” contains one of my favourite few minutes of the entire series. Of course, it’s the showdown at the Magic Box between Tara’s bio-family and her chosen family.

Week in and week out, for just over 4 seasons we’ve watched Buffy save lives, putting her skills as The Slayer to work, punching, kicking, staking, and punning her way through the worst that Sunnydale has to offer. But, in “Family”, with nothing more than a quick turn and a few softly spoken words, Buffy saved another life.

This is an episode for everyone who has ever been bullied into submission or felt like an outsider with little to offer, undeserving of the kind of friendship that binds the Scoobies together. Tara has never looked so beautiful and vulnerable. This episode explains some of her mysterious behaviour from last season. She honestly doesn’t know if she’s part demon or not, but it’s clear that she fears the worst.

After her spell threatens the lives of the Scoobies, Tara naturally assumes that she has forever lost the trust of Buffy and Co. She’s watching her whole world implode around her and it’s utterly heartbreaking to watch. But then something happens. Buffy, years removed from the chubby-cheeked cheerleader we met in Season One,, asserts herself as pack leader, and, for all intents and purposes, saves Tara’s life.

With the words, “you just gotta come through me”, Tara is given a new lease on life, free from the fear that she has lived with for years. We see her face light up as she gazes upon the chimes of freedom flashing. Buffy doesn’t care whether Tara is a demon or not. She’s used to demons in her camp and she comes to Tara’s defense before that matter is even resolved. And, for all the Dawnie haters out there, who immediately backs up her big sister’s gutsy stance? Before Giles gets around to it and before Xander mans up, Dawnie gets in line to support her thumb-wrestling friend, Tara..

This is such a beautiful, gut-wrenching scene and out of it comes an iconic and immediately recognizable screen cap, showing almost the entire cast in a single frame. Even knowing that it’s an incredibly manipulative scene emotionally, it’s still easily capable of leaving me weeping like a baby, but dammit, that’s what I show up for (well, that and the free drinks).

In “Family”, we saw the Magic Box live up to its name.

JS said...

@page48 - couldn't have said it better. I choked up at that scene.

Cynthia - thank you for the thorough analysis. I think the idea of the chosen family is the thing that has resonated most for me in the Buffy-verse.

I had a crush on Spike when he professed to be "love's bitch". S5 is when I started to seriously fall for him.

JS said...

Also, the vamp at the beginning of No Place Like Home shows up a few times, definitely more than once on Buffy, and in a background role on Angel. for some reason I thought he was on LOST, but I think I recognize him because he was in the remake of Ocean's Eleven (he pretends to beat up Ocean in the room being guarded by the twins). Also, AMY ADAMS! OK, enough on extremely minor charaters.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

Just wanted to comment about how much I love the Angel episode Guise will be Guise. Wesley is so endearing and Alexis Denisof's comedic timing and physical comedy are a joy to watch. I always loved John Ritter as Jack Tripper falling all over the place and sacrificing his body for comedy, and that is what is going on here. If any first time watchers are still having misgivings about Wesley, I hope this episode is the start of the turn-around.

Adore the Buffy/Spike scene in NPLH where Buffy catches Spike peeping on her behind the tree. He's so shy and nervous when he first says "Hi, Buffy." The look on his face says it all. It's like that first true crush in high school when you run into your crush and they actually talk to you...James Marsters is AMAZING!!! And then the killer delivery of THAT line, "Out. For. A. Walk. Bitch."

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Also, the vamp at the beginning of No Place Like Home shows up a few times, definitely more than once on Buffy, and in a background role on Angel.

That`s Scott Schwartz. He did lots of stunts on Buffy but that was his biggest parts with lines. Nice guy.

The Question Mark said...

This week, Spike really stole the show for me.

First, he realizes (with the utmost horror)that he's got a thing for a certain stake-stabbin blonde bombshell.
Then there was him loitering outside of Buffy's house and getting caught red-handed.
Next, there was his erotic dream involving a fight with Buffy...that he had during sex with Harmony! The dialogue from that dream was side-splittingly funny, but nowhere near as funny as the final scene of "Family":

XANDER: You have to go through all of us! Because we're her real family!
SPIKE: Except me.
XANDER: Except Spike.
SPIKE: I don't care what happens.

Solid gold; I peed myself laughing.

And over on Angel, we had a great run, too. "Guise Will Be Guise" was an awesome episode, and the whole exchange at the end of that one ("I'm not a eunuch") was pretty damn funny, too.

Ladies & gentlemen, Joss Whedon's humour is the official 8th Wonder of the World.

Christina B said...

I fell a few days behind last week, so I wasn't able to watch last weeks 6 episodes until the weekend.

Just two quick comments on those--

When I first saw Dawn, I though they were pulling a reverse Chuck-from-Happy-Days on me!
I remember watching Happy Days repeats, and in the very first episode, the Cunninghams had an older boy named Chuck.
One day he went upstairs to his room and never returned! (I suppose they decided the Cunninghams only needed two kids!)

So there was this little sister, *poof* appearing from nowhere...and I was completely baffled! ;)

And about 'Are You Now or Have You Ever Been'--LOVED THIS EPISODE!!! LOVED! :D

Okay, onto this weeks Angel!

I'm REALLY enjoying the Darla plot! I can't wait to see where it goes!

I really liked Wesley in Guise Will Be Guise. He's definitely winning me over pretty quickly now. :)

Tom D. said...

I love Tara to death and am therefore obligated to like Family, but I've never liked it as much as I wanted to, because of the preachiness. Like Page48 said, it's an episode for those who have been bullied into submission, who have felt like outsiders undeserving of friendship, etc. Well, that's me, but I just can't help feeling a bit manipulated every time I watch this episode.

Maybe I would have liked it better if Tara's family had been introduced previously, so that they didn't feel as though they had just been invented for the purpose of making the audience sympathize with Tara. Like, there's a character on Angel whose problematic family relationship gets introduced and then eventually resolved (I'm being vague to avoid spoilage), but it works better because it's not all done in one single episode.

Marebabe said...

Hee! I wasn't necessarily going to leave a comment right now, but I HAVE TO! because my VW is...

scubi - no, really!

Efthymia said...

I spent over an hour this morning writing my comment on the old crappy mobile I had to use, and then the word verification wouldn't show up! AAARG!!! (or, better, Grr..Argh...)

"Out Of My Mind":
- The only military guy I like reappears, and is still decent.
- Dear Buffy: You don't mistreat the guy whose help you're asking, you know...
- I don't know whose idea it was to turn Harmony into a vampire, but congratulations to them! She has been a very amusing character ever since.
- For someone cold-blooded, Spike is HOT!

"There's No Place Like Home":
Just two things - (1) Die, Dawn, die!!!, & (2) "Out for a walk... bitch!" =)

I feel they're expressing the audience's feelings towards Tara -she's nice, and she likes Willow, but what else?

At this point, it's really tough deciding whether Dawn or Riley is more annoying...

Linda345 said...

Those S5 DVDs I borrowed from the library caused me a lot of grr-arghh. Dirty and scratched beyond hope,I missed some scenes (that were interrupted JUST when I was really into them). But I got the important parts.

Oh, the men who love Buffy. Spike and Riley are alike and yet so different. They both love a good fight, and yet Riley is stable, level-headed, responsible. Spike is, and ever was, a Victorian romantic, driven by his emotions. He is falling hard for Buffy.

I like both of these men. Riley's such a good guy, but he clearly doesn't belong in Buffy's life. He slows her down. He slows the show down, interrupting its pace. Buffy's not ready to settle down, and we, the audience are not either. We want more action, please.

I like Spike in Buffy's life and I love him in the show. He enlivens it, adding wit and tension, and--romance. Every time Spike shows up on the screen, I know it's gonna be good.

Count on Spike to bluntly say what needs to be said. His comment to Tara's family shows his heart. He advocates for a woman who is being victimized by her family's need to appear normal, rather than vital.

vw: maymask - that everpresent Halloween decision.

Blam said...

@Colleen: I love that Spike calls Harmony Sweet Breads - She's a little thymus gland.

Does that make him a lymphomaniac?

Blam said...

Just some quick notes while I steal a few moments before dinner...

Buffy 5.4 "Out of My Mind"

Willow: "I feel like a witch in a magic shop!"

I can't be the only person who refers to this one as "Spike's Brain". There's a classic groaner of an episode during the original Star Trek's run called "Spock's Brain" in which Dr. McCoy is operating on, well, Spock's brain in exactly this way — behind the little tent, with Spock's skull opened up, while Spock is awake and talking McCoy through the operation.

Willow: "Cool... Are these real newt eyes?"

Giles: "No... Too rich for my blood, I'm afraid. These are salamander eyes. It's the cataracts which gives them their newt-like appearance."

Blam said...

Angel 1.4 "Untouched"

Cordelia: "I was top 10% of my class."
Wesley: "What class, Advanced Bosoms?"

The exasperated repartee between Cordelia and Wesley at this point in the series is fun, as are the flirtatious exchanges between Cordelia and Gunn. And kudos to first-time scripter Mere Smith as well as whomever else contributed to the dialogue in this episode.

Lilah: "I'm sorry I couldn't make it. Work just got insane, and our new clients are monsters." (Yeah, I know, {slide trombone}... but it's so offhand that even though it's an easy line it works.)

Cordelia: "Stop moving!"
Angel: "I'm not."
Cordelia: "Well, then stop breathing."
Angel: "I don't breathe."
Cordelia: "Then stop flexing your manly boob muscles or whatever."

Angel: "I was having a nightmare."
Bethany: "Looked like a pretty happy dream. Maybe the covers were just rumpled." ...
Bethany: "I've done stuff. I can make you happy."
Angel: "You wouldn't like me when I'm happy."

Now that I think about it, Angel does sort-of have a permanent Hulk complex — a dual one, even, given that his normal state is toggling between a human appearance and his more grotesque vampiric one, plus of course the whole thing of constantly trying to make up for the destruction he's caused by doing good while living on the edge of losing his soul and going totally evil again.

VW: flayeri — 1. The hybrid clone of Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri. (Not bad for a fella who doesn't even watch The Food Network, huh?) 2. A spell that will get used in Season 7.

Suzanne said...


I love your comments about the way that Riley and Spike have similarities yet affect the pacing of the show so differently. I totally agree that Riley slows it down in Season 5 every time he appears even though I didn't think that was the case as much in Season 4. I liked him better in that season (although I can hear the groans from many of you as I type this), but in Season 5, he really seems out of his element. I'm not sure I even agree that there would be a place for him in the "family" if he chose to accept it. It seems that he is well liked by everyone, yet there is something off when he joins them in Season 5 action/dialogue.

On the other hand, I totally agree that Spike electrifies the screen and picks up the pace to a thrilling level. He is the character that really kept me highly interested in Buffy through my first watch of the show. I liked everyone else a lot, too, but I would always be watching for Spike and hoping he would appear. In fact, Season 3 was not my favorite the first time around since I was so disappointed by so little Spike. (Of course, I adore Season 3 and see the error of my ways, now.) The bottom line is a point you seem to have been making, which is that Spike and Buffy are in sync when it comes to their pace, yet Riley is out of step with Buffy and with the gang.

lyssiria said...

More to follow (eventually), but for now...

@Colleen - Re: insect reflection. This can refer to your 'insignificance in terms of the karmic cycle.' So Glory's having an insect reflection refers to the fact that she is as vulnerable as a bug. Extrapolating from that, they could show her this 'reflection' and she might just wither and die on the spot. Like kryptonite.


Tara (or the writers) might be referring to this quote from Shakespeare's King Lear:

"He has some reason, else he could not beg.

I' the last night's storm I such a fellow saw,

Which made me think a man a worm: my son

Came then into my mind; and yet my mind

Was then scarce friends with him: I have heard more since.

As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods;

They kill us for their sport

So, this new bad guy has to be shown that she's not omnipotent, she's just a bad guy (albeit pretty strong), who's eventually going to get her a** handed to her by somebody stronger. So, once the Scoobies figure out how she's buglike, they'll squish her accordingly. You know, in theory.
It's also Tara's way of showing faith in her friends and their ability to fight evil and win.

Blam said...

@Marebabe: I wasn't necessarily going to leave a comment right now, but I HAVE TO! because my VW is...

That's really funny. But, come on, you have to define it, like so...

VW: scubi — Underwater gear worn by Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy (or, later, Buffy, Xander, Willow, et al.).

VW: forkess — 1. An eating utensil briefly, and unsuccessfully, used during Victorian England with extremely short, blunt tines, introduced because the standard fork was considered scandalous in mixed company. 2. A seriously confusing intersection.

Blam said...

Buffy 5.5 "No Place Like Home"

Like everyone else, I love Spike's rejoinder to Buffy's "five words or less" challenge, but there's so much more to like, from the "Shoplifters Will Be Transfigured" sign on the front counter to the following exchange.

Dawn: "Whoa. Check out all the magic junk."
Giles: "Our new slogan."

Nobody can sound deadpan resigned, bemused, exasperated, and/or some veddy British combination of all three like Giles.

The dialogue that most interests me, though, is what occurred before and during the casting of Glory. "You know what we need?" I can imagine Joss saying. "A gal who looks like a cross between Michelle Pfeiffer and Katherine Heigl — you'll know who she is in about five years — but delivers her lines like Eliza Duskhu. No, no, trust me, I'm not exhausted at all."

Marebabe said...

@Blam: Thank you for lymphomaniac and scubi. I bow to your VW greatness!

Anne said...

Linda345 said...

Count on Spike to bluntly say what needs to be said. His comment to Tara's family shows his heart. He advocates for a woman who is being victimized by her family's need to appear normal, rather than vital.

Hi Linda345,

First off, sorry to year that your dvds are so scratched because that really ruins the flow of the episodes.

Secondly, I do not agree with you that Spike advocates for Tara, because like The Question Mark pointed out, he doesn't care what happens. He even says something like "...To keep your women in line...I like you" reminded us that he is still evil and doesn't really care or think highly of women in general (see the way he treats Harmony in season 4) except maybe for Dru wich he idolizes.

Thanks again Niki for the rewatch

Missy said...

'Out of My Mind'

Riley,Spike and Joyce have medical emergencies.
(though if you ask me they spend way too much time on the less important illnesses)
Harmony as always is brilliantly Blonde.(I love the way Mercedes plays her)

'No Place Like Home'

This is one of my favourite episodes of the entire series...and why?It's not the reveal as shocking as it was all those yrs ago....it's not even Buffy accepting Dawn in the closing minutes...and I wish I could say it was because of Spike's infamous 5 words of less response to Buffy or hell even the way Michelle manages to go from heartbreakingly innocent to completely ominous in seconds.Why?It's the monk buffy tries to save,I've never undertood why it hits me the way it does, when he's telling her the truth....Sarah brings the tears as she does so often and well but I'm rarely looking at her when the scene plays out..the monk is just far too compelling.The actor doesn't say or do anything extraodinary but I feel the pain,confusion and importance that he is conveying that... it's overwhelming.
I liken it to the scene in Titanic where Cameron does that quick shot of the old couple lying in bed ready to go down with the ship...it's a simple scene nothing significant is happening but it's the scene when I start crying...every single time.
And thats why the Monk's confession tears me apart inside.It's simple and it gets to the heart of how I tick.

Missy said...


Also brings the epic reveal of what I'm guessing everyone can tell is our new foe...and don't ya love her?Lol

I can honestly say that BtVS was at it's best in every way during s5.
(even though s5 IS NOT my fav season)


I adore Tara.
I dispise her backward ass family but I adore her...Willow's right it's amazing that Tara is as together as she is growing up in that mess of a misogynistic hillbilly household.
Spike comes through as always with his sparkling insight into the human condition.Damn I love that Man-pire.

Missy said...

Bethany & Virginia
Boy do those girls have daddy issues.
Bethany's are shown in a more realistic(and sickening)light.
Virginia's is mostly played for laughs...which is kinda mean.
Which character do I enjoy more...oddly Virginia.

'Dear Boy'

"Right bewteen the Clowns and the big talking Hotdog"

"Snake in the woodshed,Snake in the woodshed"

"Personal bubble! Personal bubble!"

"What a poster child for soulfulness you are!"

Angel getting his Wang Chung on is disturbing to say the least.

I LOVE Darla....Can't say I'd wanna pretend to be married to DeEtta Kramer Lol But I LOVE Darla.

kluu said...

Someone said they were going to look into watching Bram Stoker's Dracula. I noticed that it free to view on You Tube Movies.

Lisa(until further notice said...

Angel: "Were you in Virginia?"
Wesley: "That's beside the point."

Suzanne said...

Missy, the monk in No Place Like Home gets to me every time, too! It is funny that you mention it because when I watched it again this time (before I read your comment), I was even wondering what it was about him that had me so riveted to the screen. His face conveys incredible emotion, and SMG plays off him so well. It is really a great scene. (I also love the scene you mentioned from Titanic, even though I am not crazy about the movie as a whole.)