Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 45

7.1 Lessons
7.2 Beneath You
7.3 Same Time, Same Place

Follow along in Bite Me!, pp. 310-318.

4.1 Deep Down
4.2 Ground State
4.3 The House Always Wins

Follow along in Once Bitten, pp. 245-253.

"Button, button, who's got the button, my money's on the WITCH!" (Seriously, I say that all the time. Every time my kids lose a button off a coat or ask me to button up their coat, I say it. I think by now they're convinced mom's a loon.)

And with that we move to season 7. I was going to talk about the major themes of the upcoming season (I cover it off pretty thoroughly in my book; my season 7 entries are longer than the ones preceding it, because I wrote season 7 a couple of years after my previous edition had come out, and by then I’d moved to a longer episode guide style) but our guest this week has that covered, and I don’t want to repeat what she is going to say.

But I do want to point out the one scene that stands above all of them in this week’s episode: the end of “Beneath You.” The first time we saw it, my husband and I sat there silent and then turned to stare at each other, shocked by it. James Marsters will put in a tour de force performance this season, and that scene is the best of it for me. To this day I can’t watch it without my eyes welling up with tears as he says, “Can we rest now, Buffy? Can we rest?” while draping himself over a cross and beginning to smoulder. The look on Buffy’s face in the background as she realizes with horror that he’s been re-ensouled and is dealing with the guilt of 120 years of slaughter is what makes the scene even more incredible.

I had the pleasure of meeting James Marsters a few months after this episode aired. We’d both been invited as guests to the big Posting Board Party that was put on every year by members of The Bronze, the online posting board where Buffy and Angel fans would meet and discuss the shows (and where several actors and writers – including Joss – would often drop by). Because I was a guest I was downstairs in the VIP area, where other actors were. It was largely an Angel cast party, but there were a few Buffy actors there – the Troika, Faith, Clem!!, and Joss himself. And, of course, James Marsters. He had been put off into another room where he was half-sitting on a table and people were lined up to see him, and it was mostly, “Oh my god you are so gorgeous can I have my picture taken with you?!” kind of stuff happening at the front of the lineup. I jumped into the line figuring I’d chat with him now before he went upstairs – where the larger crowds were. I got to the front, and held out the most recent edition of my book (the one that went up to Season 6) and I told him that I’d written the book and would he mind signing it? He looked at me, then the book, then back at me, and a big smile broke out on his face and he said, “You WROTE this? Really?” and he began flipping through it. Then he signed it, “Bite ME! James Marsters.” “Gladly,” I thought. And then he said, “What have you thought of season 7 so far?” I told him that I loved it, but that my favourite scene of the season at that point was when he draped himself over the cross. I told him the entire scene, from the setting to the way he played it in that moment, felt Shakespearean, and almost transcended the rest of the episode. He got all excited (many fans can tell you that James Marsters doesn’t play it cool and shows how excited he is) and said, “Wow, really? That’s what I was going for!” I got my picture with him and went to leave, and he grabbed my arm and I turned back, and he said, “Stay for a bit.” And that’s when I dissolved into a pile of goo on the floor. Amidst the scowls on the faces of the next people in line, we chatted about past Spike episodes and he asked me what I thought of them (he avoided “Seeing Red”) and we discussed Shakespeare before I said I should go (I was starting to get worried about the increasingly annoyed people in the line behind me and whether they were planning to attack me later). And I floated out of the room. We were married the next day. In my mind.

But all of that is to say that when I was facing him, that was the scene I wanted to ask him about, and he told me it was his favourite scene he’d ever done. Oh, and also to brag that I have totally touched James Marsters’ cheekbones. Oh yeah, baby.

Now, to discuss the beginning of season 7 in context is Elizabeth Rambo, our resident season 6 and 7 expert, back to give us a non-spoilery look at how the beginning of season 7 holds up. Take it away, Elizabeth!

“Lessons,” “Beneath You,” “Same Time, Same Place”
Elizabeth Rambo

First, the shameless self-promotion: not only did I co-edit (with Lynne Edwards & James South) Buffy Goes Dark, including my essay that totally explains why season six is brilliant despite being all about things falling apart (“Yeats’s Entropic Gyre and Season Six”), I also wrote an essay about how to read season seven, “‘Lessons’ for Season Seven”, as did my co-editor James South. James’s essay, ”On the Philosophical Consistency of Season Seven: or ‘It’s not about right, not about wrong…’” is partly a response to mine, and also much deeper, because he’s a philosopher. In short, between us, James and I pretty much have season seven sewn up (kidding!), but if you’re watching Buffy for the first time, you should wait to read these essays until the end, as they’re full of spoilers.

So most of what I have to say about “Lessons” comes from the non-spoilery parts of my Slayage essay, which also serves as a general introduction to season seven. Then I’ll discuss “Beneath You” and “Same Time, Same Place” very briefly.

From “‘Lessons’ for Season Seven’”: (originally published at Slayage: the Online International Journal of Buffy Studies)

Two themes stated for Season Seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer by series creator and executive producer Joss Whedon were “Back to the beginning” (“Watch”) and “coming to terms with power and sharing it and enjoying it” (Whedon, Interview “Ending”). It is worth noting that these themes were announced in Spring and Summer of 2002, before or just as filming for Season Seven began: The “back to the beginning” quote comes from an April news story, and at Mutant Enemy’s “Buffy Behind the Scenes” event in June 2002, which was intended to show off the musical episode “Once More with Feeling” (6.7) to potential Emmy voters, a fan who attended the event reported that Whedon announced “it was time to get back to what he said was the real theme of the series: the joy of female empowerment and the sharing of that power” (Tague). In an interview with the New York Times just before the final episode of Season Seven aired, Whedon stated:

After seven years your mission statement may have changed. Ours remained pretty much the same, or rather came full circle. We looked at the idea of power; the girl who had power that nobody understood, living in high school and how hard that was. We came back to that girl and that concept very strongly in the seventh season on purpose because we knew it was our last. (“10 Questions”)

All these comments seem to indicate, first, that Season Seven’s major themes were clearly conceptualized by the writers well-ahead of any definite statements that Season Seven would be the last season or that Sarah Michelle Gellar would be leaving the series, and secondly, that the themes of Season Seven were highly compatible with a final season, and may have been deliberately chosen with that possibility in mind. What follows is a fairly straightforward (some might say old fashioned) “close reading” of “Lessons,” considering some ways in which this first episode may be viewed as a kind of template for the entire final season of Buffy.

It was always very likely that the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would be the show’s last. Buffy had moved from the WB network to UPN in 2001 with a two year contract, and Joss Whedon told TV Guide in October 2002, “I’m beginning to suspect that it may be [Buffy’s] last season [. . .]. Nothing’s official, but it’s starting to feel possible. The way people are talking, there’s a finality to it” (“Buh-Bye”). In addition, rumors arose that Sarah Michelle Gellar might not renew her contract at the end of that second year, and who could seriously imagine Buffy without Buffy? [UPN executives and Whedon apparently entertained the possibility of a “Vampire Slayer” series “without Gellar and Buffy at its center” as early as July of 2002 (Bianculli), and perhaps for some time afterward, but this concept seems to have evaporated, at least in the near-term, for a variety of reasons.] The stakes for Season Seven, therefore, were as high if not higher than the stakes for Season Five, the show’s last season on the WB network, which ended with Buffy’s spectacular second death (“The Gift,” 5.22), and fan expectations were thus somewhat overwrought, perhaps unreasonably so. Many were already displeased or distressed by directions the show had taken in Season Six, particularly Buffy’s lengthy depression following her reluctant resurrection, Buffy’s dysfunctional relationship with Spike, the “Three Stooges” of villainy (Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew), and especially the death of Tara, which provoked enormous controversy as soon as it was “spoiled,” long before “Seeing Red” (6.19) actually aired.

Whedon, though famous for having said, “Don't give people what they want, give them what they need” (Interview, Tasha Robinson), seems to have felt that fans both needed and wanted assurance that Season Seven would be “lighter” than Season Six (“Watch”), although he had previously defended his and Marti Noxon’s Season Six story arc, which he acknowledged had been fairly grim: “I told Marti, ‘You know, I’ve been thinking, and I think next year we should go back to, like…that very positive message that we had at the very beginning of the show, and really see Buffy empowered again, instead of seeing her at the mercy of her life’” (Lee). The first episode of Season Seven, “Lessons,” seems to epitomize these promises, but Whedon also jokingly credited himself with “a thing I have personally devised called a ‘plot twist’” (Wright). Those who geared up happily for a season of Dawn, Kit, and Carlos as bouncy junior Scoobies dealing with various metaphorical teen monsters-of-the-week, aided by counselor/Slayer Buffy at newly rebuilt Hellmouth High may have been disappointed again when Season Seven rapidly turned nearly as grim as Season Six. Much like Buffy startled by newly ensouled Spike in the high school basement, after six years with Joss Whedon’s team of writers, viewers should know to be ready to duck when he says things will be fine. The lessons of “Lessons” turn out to be stated quite plainly—virtually hitting us on the head—but it will take the entire season to learn them.

Two important elements of Season Seven which “Lessons” illustrates are the vital necessity of listening carefully to words, which will often have more than one meaning, and the need to watch carefully for visual clues and references. In the course of the episode, several points are made regarding listening and watching, each of which is echoed or reflected in various ways as the season continues, culminating in the series finale, “Chosen” (7.22), an objective that influenced the intervening episodes, according to Whedon (Interview, “The Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator”). In addition, “Lessons” signals that Season Seven may be about new beginnings, but it will also be very much about the past, the history of the entire series and its invented back-story. Buffy is a show that from at least its second season has increasingly rewarded the attentive viewer with intertextual and metatextual references, and often baffled the casual channel-surfer, and perhaps never more than in Season Seven, which continually alluded to past seasons and episodes and gave false clues about where it was going.… Though some details along the way may have been altered by circumstances or other considerations, the essential elements of the final episode seem never to have been in question, and “Lessons” provides a remarkable number of clues as to what signposts to watch for and when the viewer, [like Buffy encountering Spike in the school basement], should have ducked.

Since the complete essay spoils later episodes by connecting them to clues in “Lessons,” I’ll just list the key “Lessons” for season seven, in addition to “listen for double meanings” and “watch carefully”:

• “Back to the beginning”—stated by the “morphing evil thing” at the end of the episode, which means we’re coming full circle, but not necessarily in the obvious ways. Or, as T.S. Eliot writes, “In my beginning is my end./…/In my end is my beginning” (“East Coker” lines 1, 209).
• “It’s about power…Who’s got it, who knows how to use it.”—As the season progresses, some who seem to have power will be proven less than effective, while some who feel powerless will discover their power(s) and how to use them. And some will learn that power can be or should be used in new ways.
• “It’s all connected”—learning what & who is connected, and how to make and keep connections; “connecting” is also about power, in some ways.
• “We all are who we are”—of course, figuring out just who the Scoobies are has been a continuing occupation throughout the past six seasons, so it’s about time.
• “There’s always a talisman”—some talismans are more significant and powerful than others. Remember Anya’s vengeance demon necklace that created the “Wishverse”? The charm that called up Sweet the musical demon? It’s the final season, there’s a final talisman. Or so.
• Mother issues—almost everyone has them, starting with Buffy.

I would like to say a lot more about episode two, “Beneath You,” but I think I’ve taken up most of my space already. The episode follows my pattern of double meanings and misdirection in that the devouring worm from underground produced by one of Anya’s vengeance spells both is and is not the answer to Buffy’s dreamed phrase, “From beneath you it devours.” The episode title, of course, also recalls Spike/William’s humiliation by Cecily in season five’s “Fool for Love,” in which she rejected his love with “You’re beneath me,” words echoed by Buffy in the same episode, after he’s told her she has a death wish. Those who’ve been watching Angel as well know that after he got his soul back it took him about a century to get over it and find a reason to live like a man again by championing & loving Buffy. No wonder Spike has been in torment for months. But something else seems to be working on him as well, as we saw at the end of “Lessons,” another voice inside his head. Still, that scene in the chapel at the end is unforgettable. Writing credit for “Beneath You” goes to Doug Petrie, but word is that Joss wrote that final scene.

And now what can I say about “Same Time, Same Place”? Finally, Willow is back in Sunnydale. Only she’s not. Or is she? The Gnarl is one of the most grotesque monsters-of-the-week ever, but I think everyone who hated Dawn enjoyed seeing her briefly turned into a giant pose-able “Skipper” doll (Barbie’s little sister, for those who are younger than Methuselah, er, me). Dawn really improves over this season, so everyone should try to forgive her…at least after episode 6, (in which almost everyone, with the possible exception of Spike, behaves badly). On the other hand, Spike’s fans hated seeing him turned into a blood-hound, however briefly. But he’s so good at it! And what happens in the end? See—it’s all about Willow & Buffy sharing power through connecting.

Works Cited:
Bianculli, David. “UPN’s Stake in ‘Vampire Slayer’ Is Bigger than Buffy.” New York Daily News 16 July 2002. Newspaper Source. EBSCOhost. Web. 2 December 2003.
“Buh-Bye Buffy?” TV Guide Online. 25 October 2002. Web. 7 May 2003.
Lee, Patrick. “The Creators of Buffy Head into Season Seven with a Lighter Heart.” Interview. SciFi.com. Web. 27 May 2003.
“Watch with Wanda.” E!Online. 22 April 2002. Web. 12 June 2003.
Whedon, Joss. “10 Quesions For. . .” New York Times 16 May 2003. Web. 27 May 2003.
___. Interview. “The Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator discusses his career.” Ken P. IGN.com. 23-28 June 2003. Web. 27 June 2003.
___. Interview. “Ending Buffy.” Fred Topel. About.com: Action-Adventure Movies. 19 April 2003. Web. 1 June 2003.
___. Interview. Tasha Robinson. The Onion A.V. Club 37.31 (5 September 2001). Web. 30 November 2003.
Wright, Nancy G. “Last Night’s Panel [Buffy Behind the Scenes]—additional impressions.” Online posting. 19 June 2002. SunnydaleU. 7 July 2003. .


Marebabe said...

I would like to begin by saying that I always feel annoyed whenever I see “special guest star, Anthony Stewart Head” in the opening credits. He should be a regular cast member, dagnabbit!

At the very beginning of “Lessons”, before we were told that the scene was in Istanbul, I thought to myself, “That looks like Istanbul.” (Just bragging. Excuse me.) I wonder how long we (the n00bs) will have to wait to learn the significance of the chase and the stabbing. Also, I kept thinking that the girl, whoever she was, moved just like Buffy. Could it have been Sarah Michelle Gellar playing the brunette in the chase?

I LOOOOVED the scenes with Giles and Willow in England. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to see at the start of the next chapter in their lives, but as soon as I saw it I knew: THIS is what I wanted to see! I thought they were absolutely perfect together, and their scenes were my favorite parts of this episode, no doubt.

I’m concerned about Spike. (Or should we call him William?) He’s in a pitiful state.

One of THE MOST confusing moments ever was when we first saw Warren (Warren!) talking to Spike. Once the morphing started – Glory, Adam, the Mayor, etc. – it began to make some (bizarre) sense. The final morph, into Buffy, was wonderful because of what she said: “It’s about power.” That was the bookend that reminded us of the early scene with Buffy teaching Dawn some Slayer basics, about Power. Loved it.

The structure of this episode was so brilliant and perfect, it could only have been written by Joss himself. It’s really too bad that he won’t have another writing credit until the series finale. Yeah. I checked.

Marebabe said...

I always notice and appreciate beautiful music – always and everywhere! There is some wonderful music that plays on the menu screen of S7 disc 1, and on the language selection screen, too. It reminds me of grand costume epics like “Highlander” or “The Lord of the Rings”. I let it play through several times, I enjoyed it so much.

The Frankfurt opening in “Beneath You” reminded me of the Istanbul opening. (Obviously.) I was also reminded of Giles and Willow talking about how everything is connected, and having a sense of the whole planet. It’s not all (or mostly) Sunnydale anymore. The story is global now.

I’m pretty sure that if my Yorkie had just been gulped by an unseen menace and I were being dragged down the sidewalk by goodness-knows-what, I would LET GO OF THE LEASH!!

Anybody here ever seen “Tremors”? (Highest recommendation, by the way.) The toothy, burrowing monster in this episode reminded me of the graboids in “Tremors”.

The final scene with Spike and Buffy was beyond brilliant. The insane raving and babbling of a deranged mind always makes for some of the most compelling (and chilling) drama! I was reminded of how Helena Bonham Carter played Ophelia’s madness in Mel Gibson’s “Hamlet”. In my opinion, James Marsters has made the list of greatest actors of all time!

Marebabe said...

The mutual selective invisibility at the beginning of “Same Time, Same Place” – Willow couldn’t see Buffy, Dawn and Xander, and vise versa – was indeed puzzling. It was more than just not being able to see each other. When Willow was lying on the couch and the rest of them came in and sat on the couch, well, I was reminded of Fringe, and parallel universes. It seemed more science fiction-y than magic.

I liked Xander’s yellow-crayon sign. I just wished they hadn’t talked about it so much. We get it!

I was in kind of a fragile emotional state when I watched this episode. I found it disturbing (even more than “Hush”), and I teared up when Buffy and Xander could finally see Willow in the cave.

Have you noticed throughout my comments today how practically everything reminds me of something else? I’m a big believer in “Everything is connected.” And it was SO GOOD to see Buffy and Willow really connected – holding hands – at the end. That felt so right.

A few comments about Angel. At the end of the opening blurb for “Ground Slate”, when I saw the incinerated toy car smoldering on the ground, I fully expected that the Fringe opening sequence would follow, with that wonderful, Fringe-y music. (I really like the Fringe theme!) The impression was so strong that, later on when I watched the Little Gwen scene again, I had the same reaction. It seemed strange to hear the Angel theme start up when it so clearly should’ve been the Fringe theme!

A couple things were clear about “Ground Slate”. Obviously, we were meant to be reminded of Rogue in “The X-Men”. The boarding school that Gwen attended, her electric touch, etc. Also, I’m absolutely sure that all the guys really enjoyed this episode. Gwen was a total hottie! Speaking of hotties, Wesley is my current favorite. I see what you mean, Nikki. :P

“The House Always Wins” was wonderful! I loved Lorne’s Vegas act. Such fun! Even while I was enjoying it, I was amazed that they stayed on it so LONG. It’s not like I had my stopwatch out, or anything, but I think this must be one of the longest feel-good segments in the entire Whedonverse. For me, it was most welcome and refreshing.

Marebabe said...

P.S. I wrote all of the above on Monday. Today is Tuesday, and I’ve just learned some new science-y stuff that I think is a fascinating coincidence, timing-wise. My hometown, Wichita, Kansas, has had 3 earthquakes in the past 3 days. That’s a brand-new experience for nearly everyone here, myself included. I never thought to research anything about earthquakes before, because it was never a hot topic for us flatlanders. But there’s a website called http://www.world-earthquakes.com/ that lists every single tremor that occurs all over Planet Earth. (Ours have originated down around Oklahoma City.) Last night when I checked it, there were already 210 quakes recorded for JUST THAT DAY (before noon, Greenwich Mean Time), and the list was still growing when I logged off. Most are so faint, only a seismograph would ever notice them, and as a rule, we only hear about the big ones, the newsmakers.

I never dreamed that our planet was so jiggly! The coincidence I mentioned is that, in the very same week that Buffy (and I) were all about “Everything is connected”, I learned about yet another way in which various locations around our planet are connected. It seems obvious to me that a tremor ‘over here’ will touch off another tremor ‘over there’. And around and around the Earth they go!

Marebabe said...

Aww, Nikki, what a great story about the time you met James Marsters! Thanks for sharing that. And I goofed. It’s “Ground STATE”, not Slate. But you already knew that.

lawrence said...

I feel like at some point, possibly early in season 6, the writing on the show just became very sloppy. (And having seen the rest of the series, I know it doesn't get better.)

Especially bad, IMO, was Same Time Same Place. Why would everyone jump to the conclusion that Willow skinned the Gnarl's victim? She did that one time to someone who actually deserved it. It's not like she was going around flaying people for the hell of it.

I feel like the way Buffy and Xander, and to a lesser degree, Dawn, treated Willow in her absence was not just out of character, but pretty damn stupid of them, since they should know better. (And the way Buffy treated Dawn, when Dawn turned out to actually be RIGHT, was just ridiculous. I mean, she's trying to give Willow the benefit of the doubt, why isn't Buffy willing to do the same?)

And in general, I think the dialogue has become clunkier and more obvious and telegraphed, like they aren't even trying to be subtle any more. Did they expect that the audience suddenly became very stupid and needed everything explained to them?

(All that said, the Gnarl is pretty much the most horrifying monster in the entire series. Being slowly eaten alive while unable to move or even scream is the stuff nightmares are made of.)

Page48 said...

Marebabe, only thing worse than seeing "special guest star, ASH" is NOT seeing it.

Buffy dreams a little dream of Sydney (or Lola).

Principal Wood = President Palmer (the 2nd) from "24".

Spike lives in the new school (the house that Xander built) basement with his wild-ass hair and his 1 (tight fitting) shirt.

Awesome to see the Mayor, Glory and The Master. Not so much with Warren.

Gnarl sounds like Rumplie from OUAT. Those strips of skin he peels from Willow don't look like shallow cuts.

Xander meets a new girl and almost lands himself a date. Fortunately for her, it ends before they get to the altar.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I'm really looking forward to this season - not just because James is amazing - but because I had an earlier edition of Bite Me and my copy of Once Bitten only has a synopsis of the season. Looking forward to some meaty analysis.

Since I've been seeing James at cons he's told a bit different story about the end of Beneath You. All through his time in Buffy he used The Method since he's stage trained, but that scene just about did him in. It was the last time.

Time has passed - Buffy's hair is much longer (and prettier, though no one will thankfully mention it again,) and Dawn is in training.

How does Buffy choke the vamp? Or is he so newly up from the ground that he doesn't realize he can be choked.

Willow says that everything is connected - as did Dark Willow but in a different context. She's learning to use the magic.

The coven leader is Miss Harkness - Agatha Harkness is the witch/babysitter from The Fantastic Four.

I love two toned Spike hair, and James didn't have to dye it back right away. That's how it looked the first time I saw him.

Oh, look. Buffy is lying to her friends about Spike. What a shock.

It's nice that Buffy is trying to encourage Dawn to have friends.

Notice that the Mayor confirms that Spike went to Africa to get his soul. And how great is it to see Harry again?

Shouldn't the school do something about that rat infestation?

The Yorkie bears much in common with Scully's dog Queequag.

This time you don't see Spike in the mirror when he walks by. In that blue shirt. Which he should always wear.

We know Spike is lying about being affected by the 'ghostly types.' We've seen the end of Lessons.

I love that line "Is there anyone here who hasn't slept together" and the guilty look between Spike and Xander. And the Spanders rejoice!

I do hope Buffy took Spike off the cross before she ran away. He could have burnt up.

STSP is the first episode this season that doesn't start with a girl being murdered.

My friend gave James a Brazilian soccer shirt, and soon thereafter Anya mentioned how the Brazilians love their soccer. We always wondered...

Why can Anya see Willow? Because she's a demon, or because Willow doesn't consider her a friend? Spike can see her too - in that wonderful scene we see from two perspectives.

Buffy is still using and (verbally) abusing Spike. I am not impressed.

Gnarl is the creepiest monster, The Gentlemen the scariest - kudos to Camden Toy.

There's a certain karmic justice to Willow getting her skin peeled...

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Should be the vamp doesn't realize he CAN'T be choked.

Anonymous said...

Nikki, I knew I couldn't do justice to "Beneath You," but I felt sure you would have something fabulous to say about it! That story about James Marsters is priceless.

Wish I had said more about the teaser scenes in Istanbul and Frankfurt, but we'll find out about them soon enough.

Christina B said...

Nikki, I loved your James story. I am, however, very jealous and now I must give you the evil eye...
>:| <----That's the best I can do with a keyboard. :P

I loved, LOVED James in Beneath You. The man is brilliant. Absolutely one of the best actors of our generation and it makes me so sad that he doesn't get the recognition he deserves.

Angel's first three episodes of season 4 didn't impress me at all.
I really hated Cordy at the end of Deep Down and Ground State. Silly, stupid endings.

I really likes Gwen, though, and I hope we see her again.

The House Always Wins was fun and I loved Lorne singing It's Not Easy Being Green. I've always loved that song.
I'm so glad Lorne is back...I hope it's to stay. :)

And Cordy is back....with amnesia. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Amnesia is so overdone, but if it's done well, it can be interesting.
But if it lasts too long, I'm going to have an issue with it. I love Cordy because she's CORDY. If she doesn't remember who she is, she won't be the person I adore and frankly, I don't WANT to get to know another Cordy. (Does that make any sense at all?)

Lastly, I'd absolutely DISGUSTED with Wesley right now.
Yes, he saved Angel and yes, he gave Angel the file to help find Cordelia...But he's BOFFING Lilah and LIKING it!
Once I could forgive, but now they have this weird relationship going on and it's wrong and gross and just....bad!
Ugh, I hope that ends soon!

Efthymia said...

Many people have already said some of the things I wanted to say!

@Marebabe: When I saw the "special guest star" I went "Oh, crap." (please excuse my language). I didn't really expect to see Anthony Stewart Head return to his regular cast member status -I've always been a pessimist- but the confirmation still hurt.

@lawrence: Not only the same feeling but pretty much the same words about the Scoobies jumping to the conclusion that it was Willow with the flaying. I found it annoying on first watch, and I still find it annoying in every rewatch.

@Page48: Yes! I get a major "Alias" flashback with the Frankfurt scene as well.

Efthymia said...


Honestly, when I saw 'Instanbul' my heart fluttered because I thought we were going to see Oz again (because in "New Moon Rising" Willow said that if she turned a corner in Instanbul and he was there, she wouldn't be surprised)! But, no Oz :(

So, Willow went for a trip to England with Giles? I wanna go dark and try to destroy the world!

Buffy is unbelievably cool -and by 'unbelievably' I mean 'I just can't believe it'- when she meets Spike; this is the guy who was her sex (and fight) partner, who tried to rape her, and who mysteriously left town, and she's all "Oh, Spike, OK".

I'm not a fan of this episode (it's better than other season openers, but it's still a season opener...), I'm not a fan of Season 7 in general, but I just LOVE that all the past Big Bads appear! It's one of my favourite scenes in the entire series.
Most shows tend to forget what's happened in the distant-or-not-so-distant past (even LOST is guilty of this, I'm afraid), but BtVS has references to past episodes pretty often, and it's one of the many reasons why it's one of my very favourite shows.

"Beneath You":

I'm confused: Didn't Spike want his soul to show it to Buffy? Why is he hiding it now?

These S7 episodes sure know how to end!

"Same Time, Same Place":

'Hmm... How can we make Dawn even more obnoxious?... Say, let's make her blame Willow before anyone knows what's going on and the others are still looking for excuses!'

Maybe Anya can see Willow not because Willow doesn't consider her a friend, but because she's a demon.

The Gnarl is SO creepy! (Just 'Gnarl', not 'THE Gnarl', I know)
It and it's skin-eating are one of the most disgusting things ever on the show.

Efthymia said...

@Nikki: YOU said you should leave?! YOU?! Are you crazy?! Let them wait, I say!

Although, now that I've processed this better, and combined it with the fact that you've been to Bowie concerts, I don't care because I hate you! (or, you know, am incredibly ENVIOUS!)

Colleen/redeem147 said...

'Hmm... How can we make Dawn even more obnoxious?... Say, let's make her blame Willow before anyone knows what's going on and the others are still looking for excuses!'

The Willow who tried to kill her by turning her back into a key to use its power?

That body looked a lot like Warren did post flail. I don't blame them a bit, especially since they have reason to believe Willow jumped ship and they know she didn't finish her training. I think there was a minute there when Willow thought she'd done it.

Quarks said...

Although Season 7 isn’t one of my favourite seasons of ‘Buffy’, I do really like first seven or so episodes (except for one we’ll see next week) until my problems with it become particularly apparent. ‘Lessons’ is one of my favourite season openers; the plot may be a little weak but the ‘mood’ of it and the way the characters are acting are well done. Also, the ending scene is one of my favourite scenes in all of ‘Buffy’. ‘Beneath You’ isn’t quite as good, but is still an enjoyable episode, and has that fantastic end scene. I really like the plot in ‘Same Time, Same Place’ and it’s good to have Willow back in Sunnydale, however much I enjoyed the scenes of her and Giles in England. And I love poseable Dawn.

I like Dawn in Season 7; it’s nice to see her filling the hole left by Willow being in England, and she’s clearly become a fully-fledged Scooby. Watching her looking up demons on the computer is quite reminiscent of pre-Magick Willow, and she clearly has a certain knack for it, finding the Gnarl in no time at all.

One slight issue I do have with this season is that the Scoobies have no real ‘base of operations’. In Seasons 1-3 they had the library and Seasons 5-6 they had the Magic Box, but this season they just seem to be using Buffy’s house. It’s kind of reminiscent of Season 4, when it was all done in Giles’ apartment and, like much of Season 4, it felt like the Scoobies were in some kind of limbo.

I am glad that Buffy’s time at the Doublemeat Palace is over. I understand why the storyline was included in the last season, but it was quite annoying. I much prefer Buffy as a counsellor.

I really like these episodes, but it seems I don’t have a whole lot to say about them. Next week we have two of my favourite Season 7 episodes, and one of my least favourite.

Marebabe said...

@Christina: Like you, I thought, “Amnesia AGAIN?!” *eye roll* Since they trotted out this tired and hokey plot device, I hope they will at least make good use of it. And I just now realized that I’m optimistic, in the sense that the writing team throughout the Whedonverse are usually very good. They thrill us far more often than they disappoint.

I completely understand your disgusted reaction to the, ahem, collaboration between Wesley and Lilah. I had to stop and ask myself why I am not equally disgusted. At this point, I have absolutely no idea where the story is headed, but I’m fully expecting a stunning reversal that doubles back and becomes a major plot twist! I think the reason I’m not traumatized by Wesley sleeping with the enemy is because I have a strong hunch that he has a plan. In fact, I’m sort of waiting for the moment when we see that he has a big, elaborate and well-thought-out plan. He’s smart, and right now I think of him as a spy. Spies, both real and fictitious, often use sex to get close to the enemy, so they can gain information. It’s because I trust Wesley and still have faith in him that I can relax and just enjoy the hotness of Wesley and Lilah’s frolicking scenes. They’re so well-written, leaving MUCH to the viewer’s imagination. I especially love the way they typically end, with a gasp from Lilah, or Wesley giving directions on the phone, saying, "Now..." As I said, smokin’ hot!

@Efthymia: LOL when I read your wish to go dark and try to destroy the world so that you could go to England with Giles. My first thought was, “Me too!” Then I realized that I had vaguely wished that already without articulating it.

Marebabe said...

@Christina: I just had another thought about Wesley. Not that I’ve been spoiled in any way about future story elements, but I am naturally predisposed to think the best about Wesley because of Nikki’s statement that he is her favorite character. More than once in this rewatch, she has talked about his arc and the way he develops throughout the story and how much she LOOOVES him! I value Nikki’s opinion, and went into this expecting that I, too, would love Wesley. And that’s how it’s working out. :)

Suzanne said...

I am enjoying everything that I am reading from all of you this week, and I agree with many points. I really don't have anything new to add, though, since for the most part everyone has covered the points I had in mind.

One scene that I didn't see anyone mention has always intrigued me when I watch "Lessons"; when the girl runs past an open door at the beginning, the person who closes the door looks like Spike. Is it supposed to be him or is it just coincidence?

Lisa(until further notice) said...

Page 48: "Principal Wood = President Palmer (the 2nd) from "24".

He's also Dr. Joe on Parentood...my favorite cry-at- least-twice-an-episode show!!!

I love scruffy haired Spike. I love his blue shirt, but I do miss the coat.

And yes, he wanted Buffy to know he has a soul, but now that he DOES have a soul, he won't follow through because of all the guilt and pain he feels. He's going to wait for Buffy. Good luck with THAT, Spike. Move on...anyone would be more appreciative of your many talents :)

Lisa(until further notice) said...

Page 48: "Principal Wood = President Palmer (the 2nd) from "24".

He's also Dr. Joe on Parentood...my favorite cry-at- least-twice-an-episode show!!!

I love scruffy haired Spike. I love his blue shirt, but I do miss the coat.

And yes, he wanted Buffy to know he has a soul, but now that he DOES have a soul, he won't follow through because of all the guilt and pain he feels. He's going to wait for Buffy. Good luck with THAT, Spike. Move on...anyone would be more appreciative of your many talents :)

Lisa(until further notice) said...

oops, double post.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

The only time I liked Wes after the baby thing was when he was with Lilah. Hot indeed!

Missy said...


The Master,Drusilla,The Mayor,Adam,Glory,Warren
and Our Slayer,When a series opener ends on that image.
You take notice or at the very least you should.
Things are about to get confusing,In terms of who's playing who(I mean who's currently evil & Good/PuppetMaster) and just what the Big Bads REAL plans are.

I for one LOVE watching Buffy teach Dawn to be a Slayer
(Dawn really growsup this season and it's a welcome change
from previous whiny mopey crap Michelle has gotten to play)
I also adore Xander's entrance,He walks out of that car with a new confidence and sauve.
For all the people that wondered why cellphones weren't ubiquitous ...They finally get one,Dawn's weapon is a teeny tiny silver cellphone.Lol

Bath looks really really pretty even if it was raining and a tough
shoot they made it look beautiful..and Tony's home is gorgeous.

I was not one of the people that had hoped Carlos and Kit would be around for an arc.

I still jump when when that zombie shoves a pencil in Dawn's eye..it comes out of nowhere..the scene is played with a straight faces..which makes it worse.

Hallie informs Anya that she has a new nickname around the office,Ms. Softserve.

Principle Wood is pretty.

'Beneath You'

And another pretty foreign girl bites the dust,damn their dropping like flies.
More Batshit crazy Spike
Buffy really sticks this job out(she may just e growing up.Lol)
Xander likes Nancy,Nancy has a a**hole BF,Anya turns A-hole BF into a giant worm,Spike accidently "stakes" a-hole BF...Poor Xander. Ha!
I feel soooo bad for Anya during this ep...she'sfinding it harder and harder to reek bloody vengeance on anybody.
(and she can't really hang with the scoobies)

'Same Time,Same Place'

Is one of my fav eps from S7
Willow accidently turning herself "Blinvisible"
Anya admiting that the spell "Got alittle SEXY!"
Spike still being batshit crazy and being the only one that could communicate with both parties.
Posable Dawn
Xander's Yellow Crayon sign

It's just awesome.

Missy said...

'Deep Down'

And Connor gets what he deserves.
Fred zapping Connor with the taser is a highlight.
As is Wesley with the reluctant help of Justine finding Angel and letting him feed off of himself.

'Ground State'

I <3 Gwen Raiden
Wasanyone actually concerned for Gunn?
Poor Fred she almost went Bonkers again(She's soo damn fragile,for now)

Gwen & Angel kiss(and it really gets Angel's heart racing :P )

Wesley and Lilah are now involved(pretty seriously)

'The House Always Wins"

Whats not to love?Lol
Angel regalling the gang with stories from his past(Angel was at Elvis & Pricila's wedding reception)
Lornette Fred..sooo cuuute.
The onlt thing thats kinda dodgy is the destiny stealing Lee..but it works(especially when he's threatening Lorne)

And HigherPower Cordy complaining throughout..well that is until she's suddenly back at the Hyperion with no memory ;)
Ad so begins one the worst storylines AtS ever committed too.

Blam said...

I now wrap up my ever more abbreviated, backtracked commenting — for the nonce; there's still bunches of stuff on earlier episodes (and posts, and replies thereto) from through the run to get up before the end of the year.

The more I stick to the randomish, quotes-'n'-notes format, the more my comments remind me of Colleen's. Which ain't a bad thing...

Did I really say "nonce"? I'm tired.

Buffy 7.1 "Lessons"

Buffy: "... And stay away from hyena people, or any lizardy-type athletes, y'know — or if you see anyone that's invisible —"

The openings in Istanbul this episode, Germany the next, etc., just remind me that it's incredibly inefficient to have the only Slayer remain in one place protecting one Hellmouth. Just like Xander with the bomb and the unseen apocalypse,

Buffy's pants are astoundingly low.

I love that it's so much creepier because this stuff is happening during the day while school is in session.

How awesome was the final scene with all the Big Bads?!?

Joss shot the England scenes at Tony's house, which I'm sure has already been mentioned.

Buffy 7.2 "Beneath You"

We don't see enough prophecy dreams from Buffy.

Buffy: (excitedly) "Can I give detention?"

It doesn't feel at all sensical that Spike is so demonstrably with-it so soon for such a stretch — when, I think, we're supposed to be led to believe that he's not actually Spike but a manifestation like spike saw at the end of 7.1 — and then retreats back into being majorly touched again just as quickly.

Buffy 7.3 "Same Time, Same Place"

It's a Star Trek episode!

Xander: "I saved the world with talking — from my mouth. My mouth saved the world."

Dawn: "She didn't finish? She didn't finish being not evil?"

Dawn: (muffled by paralysis) "Stop! Talking! About! Vomit!"

Blam said...

Angel 4.1 "Deep Down"

Angel: "So. How was your summer?"

Angel 4.2 "Ground Slate"

Fred: "I'm still working on a plan, but... so far it involves being sent to prison and becoming somebody's bitch."

Gunn: "Damn. This is so much harder than it looks on Batman."

Angel 4.3 "The House Always Wins"

PTB Cordelia: "Oh, for crap's sake."

Gunn: "No-one seems to be bothered by the fact that he's a demon."
Fred: "They must think it's all makeup — like the Blue Man Group. (furrows brow) You don't think the Blue Men Group..."
Angel: "Only two of 'em."

Fred: "Futures trading!"

Blam said...

Marebabe: The Frankfurt opening in “Beneath You” reminded me of the Istanbul opening. (Obviously.) I was also reminded of Giles and Willow talking about how everything is connected, and having a sense of the whole planet. It’s not all (or mostly) Sunnydale anymore. The story is global now.

It sure is. Which is pretty cool except for the fact that we're reminded about how we've never seen enough of the global effects of demons roaming the earth relatively freely before. Buffy's never called to another hotspot, even though we saw that she was keeping busy outside Sunnydale in "The Wish"; Angel's team has its hands full in LA; and so on. Does the Watcher Council keep tabs on this stuff? Do "champions" exist elsewhere? Does Sunnydale's hellmouth exert that strong a pull on evil entities that it makes sense for the Slayer to stay put there rather than globe-trot? We've seen past Slayers elsewhere, namely in flashbacks to China, and certainly seen from Angel's, Spike's, Drusilla's, and Darla's flashbacks (separately and together) that vampires at least are all over.

Colleen: Agatha Harkness is the witch/babysitter from The Fantastic Four.

You're a woman after my own heart, Redeem147.

I had more but can't get to it right now.