Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Great Buffy Rewatch: Elizabeth Rambo

Buffy Flashback

Since 2001 I’ve been co-moderator of a YahooGroup that started out discussing Buffy and Angel. With the ending of Buffy season 7, May 2003 saw the highest number of postings ever on that list. With minor editing for clarity, this is what I wrote the day after “Chosen” aired at SunnydaleU.

Wednesday May 21, 2003:
I'm posting this before I even try to read the 104 postings since last night, most of which seem to be replies to "Hated it, hated it, hated it." [People hated that Buffy & Spike didn’t end up happily ever after somehow, or that Anya died, or that Andrew survived, or…many, many things.]

I can just imagine. As for me, I was very pleased with "Chosen." Bittersweet that it's all ending, of course, but I came to the final episode with very few expectations, and I wasn't disappointed, mostly. I'd invited three of my friends--Gina & Donna, fellow English profs., and Donna's husband Peter, and Jacki, a history prof., to watch with me. We had dinner together before and talked about how we discovered the series, favorite characters, etc. They all started watching within the past two years, more or less by chance & got sucked in (the "whole big sucking thing" Buffy the Vampire Slayer effect that some of us are familiar with). It helped a lot to have friends to laugh with, sigh, discuss the fine points during the commercials. No one actually cried. They commented that the writing seemed snappier than almost any other episode this season--before I pointed out that Joss Whedon had written it.

Peter claimed to like Spike best, but Donna insisted that he really has a crush on Willow. Jacki, it turned out, was most distressed by Spike's disintegration. We're all sure he'll be returned to this dimension somehow, though--perhaps resurrected by Angel Investigations using info provided by Wolfram & Hart (similar to the spell used to bring back Darla, but hopefully not so dark), sent back as a reward by the Powers That Be, or by the power of the amulet--or by some other arcane method dreamed up by Whedon. It seemed to me a good ending, one he chose for himself, and I'm not sure I believe him when he says Buffy doesn't love him--he may be saying that to get her out. Telling the truth with lies, lying with the truth has been an interesting thread throughout this season.

In fact, almost everything the First Evil says is, in some way, a lie.

Other things I really liked about "Chosen":

Angel's petulance about Spike's soul and Buffy's involvement with Spike--"going all Dawson"--"What are you? Twelve?" She is so over him. They'll always have Paris, but she's her own woman. Yay!

Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz made the dorky cookie-dough metaphor work. Very typical of season 1-2 BtVS style--deep thought, goofy words.

Angel disappearing into the night with exactly the same turn as in “Graduation Day” 2. "I'm not getting any older" was nice touch.

Anya stroking Xander's hair in the kitchen--she so loves him--reinforcing my contention that their kitchen floor passion was not meaningless.

Buffy reaching out to Spike, reiterating his reaching out to her from 7.1"Lessons" and 7.20 "Touched"

Giles doesn't take off his glasses when Willow refers to her girlfriend's pierced tongue--evidently he's grown up a bit too.

Wood--"That's bleak" echoing Sweet, "That's gloomy." Taking Faith down a peg--just what she needs to keep her interested. Again--their encounter was not meaningless.

Loved Andrew, Giles, Xander, and Amanda playing D&D. Giles seemed to speak for Joss?--"I used to be a highly respected Watcher. Now I'm a wounded dwarf with the mystical strength of a doily." [Whedon made many comments in interviews that season about being tired. He was running three shows and wearing himself out.]

[Robin Wood’s ] "Welcome to Sunnydale High"--back to the beginning with a vengeance, both back to 7.1, and back to 1.1--very, very nice.

Absolutely beautiful: Scoobies "So, what do you want to do tomorrow?" discussion, leading up to Giles "The earth is definitely doomed" echoing the conclusion of 1.2 "The Harvest", Giles "The earth is doomed."

My one quibble: when the girls open the seal, how do they know ubervamps won't start popping right up immediately? If this was explained, I missed it both times I watched. I'm willing to let it pass, however.

Spike's hand flames--as in 3.8 "Lover's Walk"--and at last Buffy touches the fire and it doesn't freeze her. As I said above, I'm not sure that Spike doesn't believe her when she tells him she loves him. He wants her out of there. There are more ways than one to love someone.

Andrew tells his best story, one that's not quite all about him, about Anya--"She was incredible. She died saving my life." Xander's "That's my girl." is the important part of his response, not "Always doing the stupid thing." What does he mean, not what does he say? It's Xander--and although Xander's been known to make the heartfelt speech, it's just as typical for him to say something dumb because his real feelings are impossible to express. What was stupid? It's stupid that Anya's not alive, that's all. Compare Anya's speech about Joyce's death in "The Body."

And finally, one last echo from “Once More with Feeling,” "Where do we go from here?"

When I turned on FX this morning [FX ran daily Buffy reruns for several years] and found it was "Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest"--interrupting what had been season 4--I almost did cry. All that innocence. Then I picked up what might be one more echo from 7.22--Spike's "weird dream" in which he's "Drowning in footwear!"--possibly a little wave to Cordelia's greeting to Buffy: "I would kill to live in LA--that close to that many shoes!" Could this be prophetic? [It had already been announced that James Marsters would join the cast of Angel season 5.]


Suzanne said...

(Can everyone tell I am on vacation today? What better way to spend it then to follow this last day of the rewatch closely!)

Elizabeth, thanks for sharing this great first response to the finale from when it originally aired. I really liked your observations and the way you pointed out links to the beginning of Buffy that I hadn't noticed before. I know that many people find Xander's reaction to Anya's death to be lacking, but I agree with your analysis of it. First of all, Xander often covers his feelings with humor and his statement in reaction to Andrew's story seemed right to me somehow, especially given the limited time that the finale had to fit everything in since it was only an hour finale. Xander's face clearly showed how he felt about the loss. My one regret is that we didn't see how Willow, Xander, Giles, and Dawn reacted to Spike's death. He should have meant a lot to all of them by the end, and especially in his ultimate sacrifice for them all at the end. I would have liked to have seen them all acknowledge in some way that they were wrong about him and that Buffy was right all along. Afterall, Spike saved Xander from Caleb and in the end, he saved them all.

Marebabe said...

Thank you, Elizabeth, for continuing to clarify things for me. It didn’t occur to me that Giles might have been speaking for Joss with his “mystical strength of a doily” line. But it certainly fits. So far, the only Joss commentary I’ve listened to is the one for “Chosen”. He shared some cool stuff, but the main, overriding theme was his own, personal exhaustion. I suspect that, when I get around to playing some of his other commentaries, they will be much livelier, funnier, and more engaging.

I didn’t buy it when Spike said he didn’t believe Buffy’s simple, direct “I love you”. You’re right, there are MANY ways to love someone. Spike said what was necessary in that moment to get Buffy away from there, for her own safety.

Christina B said...

Welp, this had me in tears again! LOL

Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your thoughts on that day way back when it first aired!
It's so amazing how is still so perfectly worded and fits so well with our rewatch. :)

Dusk said...

Very nice analysis of Xander's reaction to Anya's death.

And the hair thing, I also agree. Part of the problem I know some have with S7 is it shelved the Scoobies and focused too much on the Army aspect, and any character devlopment was about Buffy and her boyfriends, or didn't make sense: Kennedy, Cold Buffy. The hair thing makes me think Anya and Xander didn't end in limbo like I thought.

Blam said...

Thanks for participating, Elizabeth! I loved the snow on your blog the other day. 8^)

VW: fergpod — How new singers for The Black-Eyed Peas are grown.