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Monday, February 27, 2012

Homecoming

[Updated April 29, 2013]

“Welcome to Slayerfest!” is one of those lines that makes me laugh every single time. The Mayor, whom we meet for the first time and who is one of my favorite characters in the whole series. Lyle Gorch, whom we see for the first time since Bad Eggs. Homecoming has all these things, but it’s not a particular favorite of mine. This is basically my own issue: I dislike scenes in which people are humiliated even if it is really good for Buffy’s color. For example, I hated what the frat boys did to Xander in Reptile Boy. Buffy’s painful attempt to become Homecoming Queen makes me very uncomfortable and those portions of the episode therefore hard to watch. This doesn’t make it a bad episode; I think that my sense of discomfort was intended by the writers in order to remind us of something about Buffy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beauty and the Beasts

[Updated April 29, 2013]

Buffy’s shadow self/dark side has been explored in a number of episodes to date. Beauty and the Beasts examines the dark side of 3 men: Pete, Angel, and Oz. Pete’s case is the most obvious, because the story of Jekyll and Hyde – the obvious inspiration for the episode, which Willow mentions at the end – is a metaphor generally for the dark side/shadow self (or “civilized” versus “animalistic” as a specific case of the general idea). The trigger for Pete’s transformation is his potion, a fairly thinly disguised alcohol metaphor. Some literary historians argue that Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was himself a cocaine user.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Faith, Hope & Trick

[Updated April 29, 2013]

The title of Faith, Hope and Trick seems to take its inspiration from Corinthians 13:13: 'But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love'. I think all three virtues play a part in this episode, but I want to discuss them in reverse order.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dead Man's Party

[Updated April 29, 2013]

I have a hard time writing about Dead Man’s Party because it’s one of two episodes in the entire series which I really dislike watching (the other being As You Were, if you must know). I wrote the following 9 years ago at ATPO, and my opinion hasn’t really changed:
“When something bothers me, people tell me I "must" talk about it or things will get worse. I find this untrue. I find that talking about it is, in fact, what makes things worse. It works much better for me to resolve things internally; that's the way I’m able to put them behind me and move forward. When Buffy ran away after Becoming 2, I completely identified with her and was (and still am) furious at Xander, Joyce, and Willow for their mis-treatment of Buffy upon her return.”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Anne

[Updated April 29, 2013]

Season 3 differs in many respects from S2, but in one way that’s very important for purposes of my posts: it’s much less dependent on metaphor to tell the story. The writers still use metaphors, but they aren’t the focus of the story the way they were in S2. Season 3 places greater emphasis on plot line. I don’t mean that as a criticism; whether you like this better or not is, in my view, mostly a matter of taste.
I think there’s a good reason for less metaphor, namely, that S3 has much less sex in it than S2 did. Let’s face it, American TV isn’t particularly open to sex in the early evening time slots (or even later for that matter). If you’re going to tell a story about a 17 year old girl having sex, it’s probably safest in metaphor. Season 3 has a little bit of sex in it, but the sex isn’t the centerpiece of the season the way it was in S2; Buffy’s faced that issue. Season 3 is about other aspects of character and maturity now that she’s a high school senior. That means I’ll be giving greater emphasis to those issues.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Becoming 1 & 2

[Updated April 29, 2013]

If you held a gun to my head and forced me to choose just one of the top 4-5 episodes on my personal list of best episodes, I might choose Becoming 1 & 2. Certainly they contain many of my favorite moments from the entire series: “It’s a big rock…”; “someone wasn’t worthy”; Whistler’s voiceover as Buffy races down the corridor; the whole extended dialogue between Spike, Buffy and Joyce; “the police of Sunnydale are deeply stupid”; every single thing from the moment the sword fight begins through the end of the episode, including the best single word of dialogue in the series (“Me.”).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Go Fish

[Updated April 29, 2013]

If S2 is a popular favorite because of the many great episodes, it comes in for its share of criticism due to really weak episodes like Go Fish. The fact that Go Fish interrupts an otherwise incredible run from Surprise through Becoming certainly doesn’t help its reputation, but it’s a regular on bottom 10 lists for the series. While I’m sure that there is a point to Go Fish, I’m not at all sure that I’ve identified it. I struggle with this episode, as I did with IRYJ, and what follows is my best shot. So what’s it doing here?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Only Have Eyes For You

[Updated April 29, 2013]

When I first saw I Only Have Eyes For You, I completely missed the point and therefore didn’t originally realize how wonderful the episode is. I thought Buffy needed to forgive Angel for what he’d done to her. I was so certain that Buffy had done nothing wrong that it never occurred to me that she herself thought she might have been wrong or that she might want his forgiveness. This, in turn, left me confused about who was supposed to be who in the James/Grace scenarios.