Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 40

6.8 Tabula Rasa
6.9 Smashed
6.10 Wrecked

Follow along in Bite Me!, pp. 289-293.

If you’re watching Angel, our episodes are:

3.8 Quickening
3.9 Lullaby
3.10 Dad

Follow along in Once Bitten, pp. 211-217.

This will be quick; after last week’s musical extravaganza I’ve fallen a bit behind, and this Friday I’ll be in New Orleans giving a keynote at the first ever Lost academic conference, so that’s been taking up a lot of my time. But before I get into Buffy, I know I’ve only been mentioning what Angel episodes to watch and have rarely made a comment, but this week I needed to say that “Lullaby” is one of the most stunning Angel episodes there are… from the backstory to what ultimately happens in the present, it’s heartbreaking, gorgeously told, and beautifully acted. I hope the Angel viewers love it as much as I do. Ever since my daughter was born, I’ve always sung “All Through the Night” as one of my lullabies to her, and I can’t help but always picture Holtz singing the same song, though his has much more tragic consequences. What a scene.

Okay! Now back over to Buffy. This week’s episodes could be titled “The Downfall of Willow,” although we also see Buffy moving over to her “dark side,” if you count her relationship with Spike as such. “Smashed” is that episode you always think about when people say, “How old could my kid be before I can watch Buffy with them?” and you go, “uhhh…. You might want to skip ‘Smashed’ if they’re under, like… 16. And… you probably don’t want to watch it with them.” ;)

“Tabula Rasa” is probably in my top 10 favourite episodes, and features one of the best bits of dialogue in the series, in my opinion: “Ready Randy?” “Ready Joan.” I think this episode is hilarious, and we see a culmination of one of the predictions in Restless a couple of seasons ago, as I point out in my book. Remember Spike and Giles on the swings? Spike was wearing a brown suit, and Giles said Spike was like a son to him. Xander tells Buffy (who is sitting in the sandbox) that he has to move forward, “like a shark, with feet and much less fins,” and Spike adds, “And on land!”

“Wrecked” is where it all goes to hell, and poor Willow falls apart completely. Leave it up to Joss to take the character most fans identify with the most and just make her so effed up we want to cry every week. I remember being devastated, while being immensely annoyed with her. But I never stopped loving Willow. However, I’ve always taken umbrage with the suggestion that her use of magicks is akin to a drug addiction (which is made clear by her visiting Rack, who is basically a drug dealer in a crack house). I prefer to think of the metaphor as being about using things in excess, or doing something for others as opposed to herself. In my book, I chronicled Willow’s use of magicks as far back as season 1, and called it “Willow Wicca Watch.” You just have to go through the book and read that section to see just how many times her use of dark magicks has helped those around her, or how she’s resisted using something that dark and the others have begged her to do it so she can help them. The drugs metaphor doesn’t work for me because that would suggest she “took the drugs” that other people pushed on her, and made the world a better and happier place as a result. Don’t think so. But I do like the idea that it’s a metaphor for what happens when you do things to excess.

When I went to my first Slayage in Arkansas in 2008, I remember listening to a paper that likened this arc to drug addiction, and while I disagreed with her because of what I said above, it was still a very good paper. However, I still remember someone in the audience suggesting that a better metaphor would be to compare her to someone in Overeaters Anonymous: you HAVE to eat, but it's all about what you eat and how much of it you eat. Interesting.

Incidentally, for the Losties out there, Rack is that mechanic from season 6 of Lost who takes off Kate’s handcuffs, as I mentioned back in “Helpless” in season 3, when he played Kralik, the insane vampire.

Now, I've said what I think about the addiction metaphor, but here's another take on it from the lovely and immensely talented Dale Koontz-Guffey, who was part of last week’s musical rewatch with her husband, Ensley Guffey (they did the “I’ll Never Telenovela” bit). The two of them also did the “live blog” analysis of “The Body” a few weeks ago. And really, she'll probably convince you otherwise on that addiction metaphor. I mean, I bet the lady could convince a jury that an axe murderer committed his crimes with a Colt rifle.

Take it away, Dale!


The laws of gravity are very, very strict
And you’re just bending them for your own benefit.
“She’s Got a New Spell” Billy Bragg

In last week’s musical spectacular, Willow’s solo line may have been “mostly filler,” but the red-headed witch is at the core of this week’s viewing. “Tabula Rasa,” “Smashed,” and “Wrecked” are All About Willow, but I doubt she welcomes the focus by the end of things. Willow has been rushing headlong downhill for a while now – she’s working with larger, more powerful magics that have taken on a distinctly darker tone. Willow is now using magic to get what she wants, when she wants, and how she wants. She’s running on pure Will-Power and in these episodes, we see what happens when that tank finally runs dry.

“Tabula Rasa” manages to both raise the stakes and still make the viewer laugh out loud as the episode opens with Spike’s trouble with a literal loan shark over an unpaid kitty debt. (There’s much less laughter in the other two episodes this week.) Meanwhile, Willow and the Scoobies are horror-stricken that their well-intentioned actions yanked Buffy back to life from a peaceful, heavenly place. While Willow acknowledges that she “was so selfish,” she can fix it – she’s got a spell that will make Buffy forget. Tara is adamant that Willow stop. Tired of having the same fight on a different day, Tara breaks up with Willow, who desperately throws out the addict’s boast that she doesn’t need magic. Tara relents and tells Willow to go without magic for a week.

Like most addicts, Willow sincerely meant that she’d go a week, but . . . well, just one more. Reasoning that Buffy really needs to forget and so does Tara, so they won’t fight anymore, Willow casts the spell but leaves a crucial ingredient too near the flames. This error results in the spell being bigger and more intense than was planned and all the Scoobies forget their very identities.

Let the hilarity ensue. “Tabula Rasa” is a fun exploration of identity as we see these characters who we know so well try to piece together who they are from the contents of wallets, jewelry, an airline ticket, and so on. Spike’s eventual discovery that he’s a vampire leads to high comedy as he echoes Angel’s lines about “I help the helpless. I’m a vampire with a soul!” Buffy/Joan is not impressed. Anya’s attempts to magic things back to normal result in a shopful of terrifyingly soft bunnies. But some things can’t be suppressed even with magic – Buffy instinctively protects Dawn and Willow thinks she’s “kinda gay.”

Despite the comedy, this whole mess is Willow’s fault and when the spell ends, Xander, Dawn, and Tara are all standing, while Willow is on her knees. The three walk away, leaving Willow to sort it out on her own. Buffy is likewise down and Spike offers a hand, which Buffy angrily refuses. In the Bronze, Michelle Branch sings “Goodbye to everything I thought I knew” as Tara packs, Willow slumps sadly against the wall, Giles travels thousands of miles away from Sunnydale and – is that Buffy and Spike in the corner? Kissing? (Willow and Buffy are on parallel tracks with their unhealthy attractions to the Dark Side here, especially after their enablers detach themselves, but my focus is on Willow.)

The titles for the next two episodes – “Smashed” and “Wrecked” (along with the episode that immediately follows, “Gone”) – are euphemisms for intoxication and Will’s on a bender. Heartbroken and lonely, Willow wishes she had a friend and lo and behold, the right words to un-rat Amy Madison appear to her. After three years in a Habitrail, Amy is understandably eager to get out so she and Willow decide to paint the town Bronze. While viewers may laugh at the poetic justice of two jerks being transformed into not-very-good cage dancers, Amy and Willow quickly escalate to subverting the will and agency of all the patrons for their own amusement – the band transforms, a giant strawberry dances, people grow and shrink as if in Wonderland, and a flock of sheep scamper through the club while Amy and Willow smugly watch the goings-on from above. They eventually return everything to normal, but Willow’s appetite has been whetted and she’s convinced that “there’s got to be someplace bigger than this.”

At the beginning of “Wrecked,” we briefly see Tara again – she stayed over with Dawn when no one else was home. Seeing Willow with the un-ratted Amy is disturbing to the point of bringing back Tara’s faint stammer, especially when Amy begins to gush about Willow’s magical prowess. Willow has been messing with dimensions, making people’s mouths disappear – definitely heavy lifting. Exhausted, Willow goes upstairs to “crash,” so tapped out from her night of magical debauchery that she can’t spell the drapes closed.
Later, Willow is still dragging from her magical hangover. Not a problem – Amy knows “this guy.” After three years as a rodent, one would expect Amy to be somewhat twitchy, but we learn that she frequented Rack’s Moving Crack House of Magic prior to her self-inflicted transmogrification back in Season 3’s “Gingerbread.” Rack reveals that he knows Amy’s been a rat. The fact seems to faintly amuse him and it’s worth noting that he certainly didn’t drop what he was doing to un-rat a faithful customer. Junkies come and go, but dealers always have new customers and the redheaded one “tastes like strawberries.” (Rack is played by Jeff Kober, who always does looming menace well. So well that he also played the psycho vampire Zachary Kralik back in Season 3’s “Helpless.”) Rack’s spells work as advertised and after allowing Rack a “little tour” of Willow’s insides as a quid pro quo that has disturbing echoes of penetration and ecstasy, Willow is quite literally high on the magic as she hangs out on the ceiling, watching a verdant garden. At least, until a skinless demon appears. Willow then rushes through time and space, waking up alone and confused in her own room. She showers herself into a semblance of clean, crying as she does so, then uses magic to fill out the form of Tara’s clothes to create a copy to curl up to for comfort.

OK. Bad trip. Lesson learned and Willow won’t be doing anything like that again, will she? She’s going to beg Tara’s forgiveness and soon enough, Tara will be back in those clothes instead of magical air, right? Oh, the twisted, selfish world of the addict whose creed is all id, all the time. Trying to make up for staying out all night, a still-queasy Willow offers to take Dawn to a movie. Once they get out of the house, Willow's good intentions evaporate and she decides she “just has to make one quick stop first.” In a move of stunning selfishness, Willow takes Dawn with her as she goes back to Rack’s for another fix, leaving Dawn alone in the grimy waiting room.

Buffy frantically searches for Dawn, even asking for Spike’s help. While they are combing downtown Sunnydale for Rack’s cloaked house, Willow finally emerges hours too late to make the movie, but too high to care. Her eyes are black, she’s unsteady on her feet and she tells Dawn to just lighten up, oblivious to the fact that she and Dawn are not alone. The violent demon Willow sees during her “high times” isn’t a hallucination; she actually raised him into this world. Willow and Dawn flee and Willow uses magic to open a car’s doors, start it, and drive away. Laughing at her cleverness, Willow looks back as the demon recedes into the background, and the car slams into a bridge embankment.

The demon is vanquished but Dawn has a broken arm. Willow is contrite as only those who have massively screwed up and gotten busted can be. Bleeding, crying, snot running from her nose, she repeatedly babbles her apologies – and Dawn uses her good arm to slap her. Shocked into truthfulness, Willow cries out the addict’s prayer – “God, I need help! Please, please help me!” Whether Willow is actually addressing this plea to God, Buffy, or the uncaring universe can be debated, but for the first time, Willow admits that things are out of her control.

“Wrecked” ends with Buffy not getting answers to “why” because Willow doesn’t have any to give. She can admit that she “thought I had it under control and – I didn’t. It started before [Tara] left. It’s why she left.” Buffy sees her parallel with Willow and when Willow says, “It’s over,” Buffy’s emphatic “Exactly – it’s over” isn’t meant just for her friend.

But it’s not over. The final shots of these three episodes show Willow tossing and turning in bed, half-sleeping with clenched fists. Sweating and breathing raggedly, Willow’s going through magical withdrawal. In her room, Buffy sits in bed, hyper-alert. Surrounded by heavy braids of garlic, the Slayer fingers a cross, speculating on her own substance abuse and hoping that herbs and willpower are sufficient guards against capitulation, but fearing from Willow’s experience that they probably aren’t.

Thank you, Dale!

Next week: We are joined by guest host Stacey May Fowles to look at the next three Buffy episodes, two of which I don’t much care for, and one I really like a lot. Can you guess which is which?
6.11 Gone
6.12 Doublemeat Palace
6.13 Dead Things

Next week’s Angel episodes will be:
3.11 Birthday
3.12 Provider
3.13 Waiting in the Wings

Which contains two excellent episodes and one “meh” one. And “Waiting in the Wings” is the one for you Firefly fans who haven’t yet checked out Angel. See you soon!


Marebabe said...

“Tabula Rasa” gave us some wacky comedy sandwiched between heartbreaking scenes at the beginning and end. It reminded me of taking a dose of bitter medicine with a big blob of jam, because it’s the only way you can stand it. So, we had two break-up scenes happening simultaneously, and the switch from Tara and Willow to Giles and Buffy was so smooth and elegant (and efficient). “Are you saying you’re gonna leave me?” [scene change] “Yes.” If I were compiling a list of favorite Buffy moments, this scene-switch would definitely be included. (My, but that would be one crazy-long list!)

I think we have a tie this week for Favorite Line.

Giles, scoffing: “Magic’s all balderdash and chicanery.”

Spike: “You Englishmen are always so... Bloody hell, sodding, blimey, shagging, knickers, bollocks. Oh, God. I’M English!”

At first, the group amnesia situation reminded me of the basement carwash scene at the beginning of “Flooded”. Y’know, we’ll take a very familiar (overused) story device and ratchet it up to new and hilarious extremes. EVERYONE has amnesia? Okie-dokey. I loved it, of course. About the time Spike and Buffy were choosing their new names (*heart* Randy and Joan!), I began to have the feeling that I’d seen this kind of thing before. Then I remembered. There was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where everyone aboard the Enterprise had their memories wiped. They didn’t even know what Starfleet insignia meant, or who was supposed to be doing what job. Then Worf noticed that he was the only crewmember wearing a shiny sash, and he therefore guessed that he must be the commanding officer. Everyone agreed that he was probably correct, so for awhile, Worf was giving the orders on the Enterprise.

In “Smashed”, the Evil Trio had a Freeze Ray. A FREEZE RAY!! (Paging Dr. Horrible...) That is just too wonderful, that here in Buffyland it has to do with ice, and later in Dr. Horrible’s bid for world domination, to freeze means to stop motion. (How is it that Joss Whedon doesn’t have an Emmy award for every room in his house?! And how fun was it for Buffy fans watching Dr. Horrible for the first time?) Another thing I loved about the Evil Trio in this episode is that they called their basement hide-out the LAIR. This whole episode was so quippy and fun, it reminded me quite a lot of Season One.

It’s so long since we’ve seen Amy, I had completely forgotten that she was proficient in magic. When asked what activities she would like, I loved that she said, “Anything not involving a big wheel.” Very understandable.

Goodness, Buffy and Spike like it rough! At one point I thought maybe I should be keeping track of the number of times they hit each other in the face, but I didn’t feel like backing up the DVD and actually counting. That ended up being one very erotic scene! Who’d-a thought?

Marebabe said...

In “Wrecked”, I laughed out loud when Spike held up Buffy’s lacy little undies and she punched him in the face really HARD. Those two! I’ve gotta say, I’m really enjoying Buffy and Spike together.

“You taste like strawberries.” Now, where have I heard that line before? :P (Maybe Sawyer’s OTHER favorite TV show, besides Little House on the Prairie, was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

I was a little confused about Rack. He is called a warlock, which is the masculine name for witch, right? With his severely scarred face, I thought he looked more demon-like, and his magical abilities were so off-the-chart POWERFUL, I sometimes forgot that he was human. I was also unsure of what he was really doing to Willow. Amy had said that Rack would give Willow’s powers a boost, but it seemed that, more than anything, he was sending her on a really mind-blowing trip, like heroin and LSD combined. She ended up seriously addicted to his power-drug, a real junkie. And now it seems to me that she will need rehab to recover from it, like any other addict.

I remember thinking when I first watched “The Body”, that Joss had surely written that episode from memory, having experienced the death of his Mother. Marti Noxon wrote “Wrecked”, and I’ll just bet that someone close to her has had to battle some sort of addiction. All the beats were there; desperately needing a fix; forgetting important responsibilities; injuring her friends; tearful apologies; swearing to change and quit cold-turkey, etc.

On a lighter note, I liked the shimmery, wavy effect when Amy and Willow crossed through the cloak around Rack’s magic den. And speaking of Amy, they didn’t explain what she was doing, raiding the spice cabinet. I wonder very much what she’s up to. She looked and acted really guilty when Buffy caught her.

Seeing all the garlic in Buffy’s room at the very end, I was suddenly reminded of Gaston in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”, when he sang, “I use antlers in all of my decorating!” Buffy could sing that line, substituting ‘garlic’ for ‘antlers’. I know. I’m weird. ;)

One last tangent. I typed up my comments on this week’s episodes at work, and since I didn’t have Nikki’s book with me, I looked up the Wikipedia article for “Wrecked”, hoping to gain a little understanding about Rack. Now, it’s a well-known fact that absolutely anyone can contribute on Wikipedia, and, let’s face it, some people write better than others. There was this glorious run-on sentence that contained several type-o’s and grammatical and punctuation errors, but I enjoyed it for its breathless momentum:

Anya reads bridal magazines instead of researching the freezing demon and Xander asks for the book next to Anya but she is not paying attention so he grabs the book and another bridal magazine is inside of it and it slips of of the book and xander looks at it shocked and pushes the book that Anya is looking at on the table and sees the other bridal magazine inside says "Anya!" which got her attention and she says "i'm sorry but this is pointless we've been researching forever and we're not even close to finding out who robbed that muesum!"

Don’tcha love it?!

Just a few notes on Angel this week. “Lullaby” was certainly an intense episode. I never expected that Darla would die, least of all by her own hand. And in “Dad”, it was so wonderful that Baby Connor liked Angel’s vamp face and finally stopped crying. Angel just keeps getting better and better!

Marebabe said...

Nikki, I understand the distinction you made between drug addiction and doing things – anything – to excess. The reason I saw Willow’s descent into rock-bottomness as a metaphor for drug addiction had to do with obvious visual clues, such as Rack’s place looking like an opium den, the totally tripping-out-of-her-mind stoned look on Willow’s face, even the way that Amy suggested stopping by to see Rack. It was very reminiscent of the way lots of people are introduced to drugs, or whatever. A friend says, “Try it. You’ll like it.” Also, quite often the person who has the drugs to sell will comp prospective customers with a freebie to get them hooked. My first time watching “Wrecked”, those were the kinds of things I saw. And I’ve admitted before that, as a n00b, I’m experiencing these episodes on a pretty superficial level. But I wonder if anyone, even you, watched “Wrecked” for the first time and drew parallels to overeating, or playing video games all the time, or being a workaholic, or a sex addict, or a chain-smoker, or an alcoholic.

Dusk said...

@Marebabe: Amy was stealing some of Willow's magical stuff for her own boost. Looks like she either has more control over her need to visist Rack, or Rack makes it harder for Willow to resist.

I have to people of a few spoilers here, but Rack's appearence is something that's never been clear to me either. My theroy is: If you constantly use powerful/dark spells for a long period of time, it starts to effect you, and not just your enviroment. So, I believe Rack was born human, but magic has given him some slight alterations. Anyone care to add?

I also have problems with the magic=drugs. One is how many times it has helped the team, as covered by Nikki. Without it, Sunnydale would have been taken over by Adam.

Another is how Giles, and anyone else who could possibly know on either show never brings this up, even after Willow brings Buffy back. Giles never said addiction, he said she messed with primal *powerful* forces.

Amy as the pusher, Rack as the dealer, the shower scene, all of it is just to hammer over the head for me, slightly more subtle then Beer Bad only because they never say the word drugs.

Willow who hated her shy computer nerdy self, only got into magic because she admired Jenny, and wanted to help Buffy with Angelus. Her first spell ultimatly worked. Willow who was bullied, had few friends, no dates for the longer time was suddenly unique in a good way, she could make things better for her friends. Tara said it turned into her helping herself. After years of feeling weak, Willow had seemingly limitless power. Her addiction would be power. Making spells a it stronger, trying to create sunlight, it's not because she has a biologically need, she liked the power.

Putting in addiction also frees Willow of some of the responsiblity of her choices, it's her addiction sickness, not her doing it, which doesn't really jibe for me. Up until this season, she always chose what spell to use and when.

Also love Lullaby, it's in my Top 10. Darla was my overall favorite villian.

Nikki Stafford said...

Marebabe: I did this writeup on Sunday, and the whole time I was thinking "Don't forget to mention the Lost connections" and I made it as far as the mechanic without doing the strawberries thing. I'd have to go back and look, but I'm pretty sure that in the Finding Lost book I actually made the connection to this very episode, saying that I thought Sawyer's line came from here. ;) It might have been in a David Fury episode of Lost.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Tabula Rasa is one of my favourite episodes. The other two - aren't. (Except the end of Smashed. I admit I wore out my tape.)

The clothes on Buffy interest me. Buffy comes out in a virginal white sweater with a high, non-biteable collar. (Not that Spike tries to bite her. It's part of her seeing Spike with vampire blinders whenever it suits her.) But that Shark - I guess he represents that this is a season without metaphors. Bad puns, maybe.

Is Giles protecting Buffy, or himself? You don't help someone with depression by telling them to buck up.

Giles would have to have been very young to be Spike's father (James is less than ten years younger than Tony.)

I love that without his memory, Randy assumes he's a good guy. And that there's some attraction between Giles and Anya.

I think the skeleton is a tribute to Ray Harryhausen.

They played Goodbye to You over the radio at work one day not long after this first aired. I wonder if anyone noticed me crying.

The very end of the episode always gives my happy little heart a leap.

I find Smashed pretty clunkily written and out of character, possibly because it was Drew Greenberg's first episode. He came from Queer as Folk and went to Dexter.

How did Amy get so magically strong by being a rat? She wasn't this powerful before.

Buffy tries to convince herself she doesn't want Spike, and Spike tries to convince himself he's evil. Oh, children...

Okay, some geek stuff. Boba Fett is out of package and therefore not in mint condition. Andrew can't have seen all of Doctor Who because some episodes were destroyed before he was born. Red Dwarf was out on DVD. But what amuses me most? James is a Star Wars geek and would never break off Boba Fett's head. He also wore Spock ears to one of the first Trek conventions. :)

Apparently the Bronze makes martinis.

The nerds probably did get their ideas from a D&D manual.

The Magic Box address is #5124? On a street with six buildings? :)

Spike tells Buffy she 'came back wrong' - a callback to zombie Joyce.

Smashed ends with one of the most (or the most) erotic scenes on Buffy - and they're both fully clothed.

I don't like Wrecked. I'm not fond of Marti's scripts either. Much as I did like season six, I wonder how much better it would have been if she hadn't been in charge because Joss was so busy with Firefly. She has all his angst and very little of his humour of finesse.

Spike and Buffy are pretty wretched to each other the morning after. And I don't believe Spike would be so blase about Dawn after looking after her all summer.

When did Anya have time to bleach her hair?

So, was Amy going to see Rack in high school? She acts like she was a regular.

Rack calls Willow Strawberry - it's also a word for a woman who exchanges sex for drugs.

Willow's Tara mannikin reminds me of Dawn cuddling the Buffybot.

Poor Amy is going through sage withdrawal.

James wasn't body conscious until they started writing him naked all the time (and he says Sarah used to make fun of him because she got to keep her clothes on.)

Wrecked is like 'a very special Buffy episode.' Anybody else remember ABC afterschool specials?

I find Buffy and her garlic hilarious. What does she think is in Blooming Onion batter?

Page48 said...

Has there ever been a show without an episode called "Tabula Rasa"?

"Lost" 1.3
"Stargate: Atlantis" 4.06
"Criminal Minds" 3.19
"Heroes" 4.06

TR isn't as common as "Pilot", but it's been used a few times.

TR is a hoot. And, of course, Nikki picked the best screencap, which is absolutely priceless. But, it can't be all fun and games and ended in heartache and sadness and Michelle Branch. Bring the beautiful pain, Scoobies, I can take it.

And, then, with the adult supervision back in England (again), it's all downhill for the rank, arrogant amateur.

"Wrecked" is particularly hard to watch (but in a good way). Willow goes all irresponsible and steals a car, which she had no trouble starting because the had The Key with her.

Anyway, she gets Dawnie darned near killed, which results in what is now an extremely rare interaction between Spike and the Niblet as he checks on her condition.

Spike and Buffy brought the house down. The Vampire and the Slayer got it on and nobody had to die. Ya hear me, Angelus, nobody had to die.

Amy? Still a rat. And a bad influence.

Suzanne said...

I have so much to say but it will have to wait until morning. For now I just want to point out one of the funniest lines in the series. In Tabula Rasa, Spike makes fun of Giles for being a "nancy boy" Englishman. Later when Spike realizes that he, too, is British, Giles quips, "welcome to the nancy tribe." That line has me on the floor every time.

The Question Mark said...

@ MAREBABE: I laughed at the Dr. Horrible connection, too! Maybe one of the Troika is secretly leading a double life as Johnny Snow. And ya, Wikipedia's contributors can be...interesting at times.

@ NIKKI: In your book, you mentioned how Marti Noxon said the original cut of the Spike/Buffy nookie was even MORE racy (particularly the last shot). I can only imagine what it was like, since the cut we saw was already pretty hardcore.
And the James Marsters nudity was all over the place!

Favourite Moment of the Week: the swordfighting skeleton vs. Giles. Holy crap, was that ever funny!!!

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I've seen a cut of the end of Smashed that goes on a little longer and with less dust, more thrust. ;)

Christina B said...

*ears perk* Firefly fans? Oooh, now I'm really looking forward to next week!

First, Buffy--

Tabula Rasa:

I love this episode.

-Giles doesn't believe in magic.
-Buffy instinctively takes care of Dawn.
-Spike's curse words to realize he's also English.
-Buffy choose the most plain name, Joan, because, well...her name is BUFFY.
-Giles sword-fighting a skeleton = Epic.

The end is so sad, though. Buffy getting hit with all her awful memories, lying there, unable to move.
And everyone walking away from Willow.

It's not a death ray or an ice beam....Er, sorry. I went all Dr. Horrible there for a sec. ;)

Smashed was just 'okay', um, until the end, of course. Also, I MUST see the full version of that scene!!


Wrecked is difficult for me to watch.
I agree, Nikki, that they shouldn't compare Willow's magic addiction to a drug addiction, but since they did, some of these scenes are just tough for me.
As I mentioned during 'The Body' week, my dad was an alcoholic. I tend to avoid shows that depict the darkest sides of addiction (like Intervention) because I had to watch and listen to it my whole life.
So, yeah...Wrecked was a little tough.

Onto Angel!


I'm enjoying this plot line a lot.
I love the flashbacks and back stories.


Holy CRAP. What an episode!!
I loved Darla in this one. I really felt for her and we got to see the person she could have been.
And that ending! My gawd, I did NOT see that coming at all!
There I am, completely stunned, yelling at the TV, "Pick up the baby! Pick up the baby!"
Poor little guy was lying on the pavement, getting rained on!

It's very difficult to hate Holtz. I feel for the guy. He's doing what he thinks is right and can you blame him? Look at what they did to his family!


Dad was a bit of a letdown after Lullaby.
I really don't need to see Angel cooing and babbling and making faces at a bay for 5 minutes straight, thankyouverymuch.
The baby switcharoo did get me, though. I really thought Angel was running with the baby.
I should know better. ;)

I'm a little worried now. I don't know how they're going to add a baby to the show.
Angel can't really be going off to save lives with a baby around, right?
So unless he gets kidnapped or ages rapidly or something (they'd better not kill off that baby!), I'm seeing a lot of babysitting in Cordy and Fred's futures.

I also wonder what's going on with Fred and Wesley. There was a mention a few episodes ago and now there's nothing.

If you ask me, I'd love to see Fred with Gunn.
I think they compliment each other well and they'd be so good for each other. He's so cold and callous and she's so scatterbrained and lovable...with a definite dark side that comes out occasionally!

And now I shall recant something I said last week (*gasp*?).
After watching Dad and seeing Cordy with the baby and how sweet she was toward Angel, I think I might be okay with them being attracted to each other.
Now, that doesn't mean I want a full romance, here! As much as I adore Spike and Buffy together, I still hold out hope that one day in the very distant future, Buffy and Angel will find a way to live happily ever after!
Well, I can dream, can't I? ;)

Efthymia said...

Willow: I was always able to find excuses for Willow until "Tabula Rasa"; this was the first time I was SO disappointed in her and couldn't find any excuse. Willow's evolution during Season 6, although interesting from a TV point of view, I suppose, terribly saddens me (I'm well known to get upset over fictional characters...). The Willow I know and love wouldn't toy with people like she did in The Bronze in "Smashed". It doesn't feel like drug addiction, it feels like Invasion of the Body Snatchers!!!
By the way, I don't mind the drug addiction metaphor so much, because I never took it to mean that magic=drugs, just that Willow exhibited an addict's behaviour and she couldn't stop doing something that can hurt her and others.
It was also never of the view "Oh, they keep asking her to use magic and now they tell her she has a problem and has to stop!? Hypocrites!". From the first time Willow tries to perform a spell (re-souling Angel), everyone tells her to be careful and not go too far. Very often in past seasons Willow is warned to not go too far, and Oz was already worried about her use of magic in early Season 4. To use another metaphor, it's OK to drive a car, and people will ask you for a lift, but they will worry and will warn you if you overspeed and ignore the traffic lights (and in "Wrecked" we actually have a car accident; hmmm...).
Anyway, it's not magic itself that is the problem; it's that Willow bases her whole identity on it. It's as if someone identifies themself with their job, therefore would do anything not to get fired, or identifies themself with the role of husband/wife, therefore would do anything not to get divorced: Willow feels she doesn't have a self without her magic, she has interpreted herself as a nobody before it (ignoring that she had a close personal friend in Xander, that Buffy chose her over Cordelia when she first got to Sunnydale High, that she had the esteem of people like Giles and ms. Calendar, and that a person -Oz- fell in love with her).

Efthymia said...

Now, on to the episodes.

"Tabula Rasa":
Although it features many funny moments, the part with Giles and Spike/Randy as father and son is by far my favourite!
And in the end, Buffy is once again acting as if it's Spike's fault (refusing his help to get up and storming away after glaring at him). To be honest, I wonder why he still bothers...

In this episode we have Amy & Jonathan, two people we know back from Sunnydale High, who haven't learnt their lessons...
I'm sad to admit that threatening to destroy my equivalent of Boba Fett would be just as effective a threat on me as it was on the Trio. Yes, I am guilty of treasuring useless objects.
And what happens at the end is only natural: how long could ANYONE resist Spike?!

Although the scene with Willow and Tara's dress is very sad, it doesn't really get to me because (a) Willow is solely responsible for what happened between them and (b) like I mentioned in my above post, she doesn't feel like Willow to me (it's her evil twin!).
'Not judgy, just observey.' -I love this line. I've always hated it when people translate worrying as being judgemental.
Boy, Buffy's room must stink!

And I like the trailers, too...

Missy said...

Isn't it funny that in the same set of episodes two people finally give in to their desires and two others previous bout of desire results in a baby?

Both sets of 3 are among my favs

Buffy&Spike finally consummate that intense lust thats been developing since S5(Though earlier if you ask me).

Angel and his long time on/off lover Darla have cute little Connor,Too bad Darla had to die in the process(I'd really come to love that character)

Willow,Willow,Willow...Strawberry please stop with the magicks it doesn't lead anywhere good.
I've always attributed her magic addiction to her self esteem issues.I think it's safe to say she has an addictive personality.
Way back in early seasons she had trouble sharing her friends with ,Faith,Cordelia...hell even Anya.

Amy,The Trioka and Dawn...get some heavy scenes.

And Holtz,I teeter between understanding his motives and just plain disliking him for how he goes about avenging his family's deaths.

For everyone that didn't catch it the first time around -You can actually see the pin pop out of the grenade.It's pretty epic.


Marebabe said...

@Dusk: The lights went on for me when I read your definition of Willow’s addiction. She’s not so much addicted to magic. She’s addicted to POWER. It’s like, you can analyze anyone’s addiction to anything by asking, “What do you ultimately get from xxxxxxx?”

@Colleen/redeem147: I enjoyed your observation that Amy is going through sage withdrawal. *snort* (OMG, unintentional pun! That snort was meant to be a laughing kind of snort. But can you imagine snorting a few lines of SAGE? Ew.) Also, very good call, that “Wrecked” is like ‘a very special Buffy episode’. I do indeed remember those After School Specials.

@Efthymia: I loved your first comment about Willow’s evolution with magic, her identity issues, the driving a car metaphor, all of it. Very on-the-nose.

Suzanne said...

@Efthymia, I agree with many of your comments this week. First of all, Willow doesn't feel very much like Willow to me in this season. In fact, she reminds me of Faith. Like Faith, she seems to be overly enamored with her own sense of power, and in these last couple of episodes, she displays complete disdain for mere mortals. She really treats people like they are sheep that she can herd in any direction she likes. I have a hard time with this version of Willow since it seems so foreign to me after getting used to the Willow I adored from the first minute she came on screen.

As for the addiction to magic metaphor, I really don't care for it. I agree with Nikki's comments about it in her book. It seems forced to me because her use of magic has never been about addiction from my viewpoint. It has been about feeling powerful and in control. At first it is a healthy attribute for her since it makes her confident and independent for the first time, but it becomes darker as time goes on. The comment that Giles makes to her, "rank, arrogant amateur" is more along the lines of how I view Willow's recent use of magic. She is playing with forces that she cannot control even though she thinks she can and showing an arrogance in doing so. Why should the writers have given her a pat excuse by turning her into a "victim" of addiction rather than a woman who has let power go to her head?

I also agree with Efthymia's comments about Spike and Buffy. I despise the way Buffy treats Spike in Season 6, and it is hard for me to understand why he loves her after the way she treats him. What has changed since Season 5 when she saw the "man" in the "monster." Now she is back to calling him a "thing" and treating him like dirt. I guess we are supposed to believe that it has something to do with the way she came back "wrong" and with the way she is feeling low about herself, but somehow the writing doesn't feel right to me in these scenes. How can Buffy be so heartless; this is what makes a lot of fans start to dislike the Buffy character, and I find that to be a shame.

All of that being said, there is still a lot to like in Season 6. I loved the scene when Buffy came into Willow's room after the car wreck and seemed angry, but little by little she was drawn to Willow's side. You can see the deep bonds of their friendship in that scene, a friendship that I really care about and wish hadn't been pushed to the background when Tara arrived. In that scene, though, I just wish Buffy had been a bit more forceful in letting Willow know how much the "nerdy" computer "geek" was loved and how much she is missed. I also wish the writers hadn't made Buffy look so self-centered in the way she kept equating her own sexual "addiction" (I am not sure I see that as an addiction either by the way)to Willow's much more serious problem of her addiction to magic. Couldn't it have been Willow's turn to be the focus of concern for a change instead of making it all about Buffy. I don't believe the Buffy we knew from earlier seasons would be like this; however, again maybe this can be explained by the "you came back wrong" theory.

As for Angel, I adore "Lullaby." This episode really shows the viewer how tragic it is when a person is turned into a vampire. Darla realizes what she took from Liam when she stole his humanity, and she realizes what she lost when she was turned. They both realize the atrocities they perpetuated on Holtz's family, and I am sure they can't help but dwell on the little girl they turned. My only nitpick about the episode is that I wish Cordy had been by Angel's side in the final birth scene instead of Fred. As much as I love Fred, I always get the feeling that Cordy is being pushed out in the these early episodes where they are trying to establish Fred's character.

Marebabe said...

I had another thought related to the driving a car metaphor. Over the years, whenever the issue of prohibition comes up (marijuana, guns, Swiss Army knives, take your pick), after mentioning that prohibition doesn’t work, I usually get around to pointing out that anything – any object – that can be used for good can also be used for evil purposes. Cars are good and useful things, but they can be abused in horrific ways. Cocaine is a marvelous painkiller. Box cutters are awesome for, y’know, cutting open boxes. And in the world of Buffy, magic has saved the day more than once, as several people have pointed out. Moderation is a tricky thing to master.

Dave said...

I've been rewatching Buffy & Angel as part of a larger project and my thoughts on these six episode (among others) are here.

Dave Wrote This

Quarks said...

This week really is all about Willow and her magic addiction, and the effects that it has on the people around her. ‘Tabula Rasa’ is a great episode, with a chunk of humour in between a sad beginning and end. I love how many of the characters’ personalities shine through even with the memory loss. Willow and Tara’s love is clear to see, which makes the ending even more heart-breaking. The ending of this episode is, in my opinion, one of the best scenes in ‘Buffy’. The song (‘Goodbye to You’ by Michelle Branch) fits perfectly with the mood and is a great song, and it amplifies the pain we feel of Tara leaving Willow and Giles leaving Buffy.

I have to say that I don’t think that any of the characters deal particularly well with Willow’s addiction. Tara perhaps deals with it best, by confronting Willow about it and leaving her when it doesn’t get better, although she could give more support in the recovery process instead of seemingly severing all ties. Giles also confronts Willow about it, but here he leaves without really considering what might happen. Dawn is completely ignorant of what’s going on, while Buffy is too busy with her own problems to worry about something that might be happening to Willow. But it’s Xander and Anya who really annoy me. They see that Willow is using too much magic, and they tell Buffy as such, but they don’t do anything to help her. Xander has been Willow’s best friend for years, and now he’s acting as though it’s Buffy’s responsibility to help her.

My problem with the addiction storyline is that when we get to ‘Smashed’ and ‘Wrecked’ the metaphor loses any semblance of subtlety. Before it was just a metaphor for addiction, or excess, but here it becomes very clearly a metaphor for drugs. And what bothers me most is that by doing this, it seems to change everything we know about magic. Never before have we seen anybody ‘high’ on magic, or seen someone have a ‘bad trip’, or any kind of ‘withdrawal symptoms’. And we haven’t seen it as some kind of substance that can be ‘dealt’. It feels as though somebody after the end of ‘Tabula Rasa’ decided out of nowhere to make it about drugs.

It’s interesting that Nikki mentioned in her blog about overeating, as the other day I was considering what a better metaphor would be instead of drug addiction and the closest I could think of was Size Zero. Firstly, I should say that I don’t actually know much about this issue, so most of what I include has just come from TV shows etc. I imagine that the majority of people want to be size zero because they think that they won’t be attractive or popular if they are not thin, much like Willow does magic because she doesn’t want to go back to being the unpopular nerd she believes she was in high school. And while eating healthily and doing exercise is good for you, if you go too far and don’t eat anything then you are putting yourself in danger, in a similar way to how Willow using magic is useful for saving people’s lives etc. but when she goes too far and starts doing it for every menial task it gets dangerous.

A couple of other things I noticed about this week’s episodes:

After losing her memory, Dawn is initially terrified that Buffy or one of the others is going to attack her. Perhaps her memory loss took her back to just after she was created by the monks, when she was new to the world.

I love this exchange between Spike and Buffy. I always enjoy it when shows make fun of themselves:

SPIKE: I must be a noble vampire. A good guy. On a mission of redemption. I help the helpless. I'm a vampire with a soul.

BUFFY: A vampire with a soul? Oh my god, how lame is that?

Anya is certainly on form in this episode as well: “You think it's sensible for me to go down into that pit of cotton-top hell, and let them hippity-hop all over my vulnerable flesh?”

Spike and Buffy were quite lucky that there weren’t any pointy pieces of wood sticking out of the floor at the end of ‘Smashed’ for Spike to impale himself on. That would have been quite a mood-killer.

Marebabe said...

@Everyone: Seldom have our discussions been so philosophical. I’m really enjoying the exchange of ideas this week.

@Quarks: You’re right about the suddenness of the drug addiction metaphor popping up. Prior to seeing “Wrecked”, my thoughts about Willow never went careening down this side street. (My brain is obviously still working on that car metaphor!) And great observation and theory about why Dawn was so terrified when everyone woke up with amnesia. I’m sure that I would NEVER have thought of that one on my own, so thanks for bringing it up.

VW: weetha - the first two words of the Constitution of the United State.

The Question Mark said...

If this show ahd been aired during the mid-to-late eighties, I think Willow's magic addiction would have taken physical form by a cloud of evil smoke voiced by George C. Scott, and she would have been intervened by the Chipmunks, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Alf, Huey Duey & Louie, the Muppet Babies, Michelangelo, and Pee-Wee Herman.

And I really hope someone else gets this reference :P

Marebabe said...

@Question Mark: I don’t get your mostly-cartoony reference, but I SURE WISH I DID! Sounds muy fun!

And I just spotted the missing S in my VW definition. (Grrr. I hate that.) It’s s’posed to be United STATES. There. I feel better.

DUsk said...

The reason I think Xander doesn't try to help Willow is he usually stays away from the mystical stuff. One of his first expirences was hyena-boy, and Willow's first big achievement with magic was helping a murderer/guy Xander generally hates. I believe this is why he never got into it around The Zeppo, days, from his perspective, nothing good was done with magic.

Around Primeval when the Four combined, Willow was already very powerful and Tara had just joined, so he wouldn't see any use in him jumping in to magic.

Add to that his recent Sweet mishap, and it's obvious that he leaves mystic problems to the ones with mystic powers.

And Anya, just focuses on the moment and her and Xander's wedding. Willow and Buffy's problems can only be really fixed by them in Anya's head. This mindframe is also why I think they never took the brooding route with her demon-day kills, it happened, she can't change it, and she probably thinks most if not all of them deserved it still.

Dusk said...

@Suzanne: With the sparks between Cordy and Angel lately, it would have been a little strange for her to witness the end of Dangel.

Also my overall opinion of Fred's place in the group is that: If follow that Angel's the champion, Wesley's the brain, Gunn's the muscle and Cordy's the heart, then Fred is the mixture of all four of them at different times, and this was her "heart" side coming out.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

Is it odd that I think Holtz is kinda sexy?

Sara D. said...

Buffy selecting the name "Joan" for herself in "Tabula Rasa" at first just struck me as ridiculous, because I just thought of it as a pretty bland name.

But THEN I started wondering if the name Joan was an homage to Joan of Arc, the ORIGINAL badass teenage warrior woman in a male-dominated world. The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that it was Joss's intention for the viewers to think of Joan of Arc when Buffy calls herself Joan.