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Monday, April 23, 2012

Graduation Day 1 & 2

[Updated April 30, 2013]

“Gentlemen,” he said,
“I don't need your organization,
I've shined your shoes
I've moved your mountains and marked your cards
But Eden is burning
Either get ready for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage
For the changing of the guards.”
 

Graduation Day ties together what I see as the three principal themes of S3. The most important theme involves Buffy’s acceptance of the absurdity of the world. For Joss, that’s a key insight in becoming a true adult. I’ll summarize that below and explain how the events of GD2 fit in with that theme and with Camus’s concept of rebellion as an important response to absurdity. The second theme, related to the first, involves the corruption of adult institutions represented by the Mayor and the Watcher’s Council. The teenage years are a natural time for rebellion and corrupt adult institutions are proper targets to rebel against. Lastly, we have the Faith arc, which involves both Buffy’s reconciliation with her shadow self and the existentialist quest for authenticity.


I’ll take these in order, starting with absurdity and rebellion. I last discussed this topic in my post on Gingerbread. That episode showed us that Buffy had accepted the absurdity of the world, building on what we’d previously seen in Lovers Walk through Amends. Gingerbread also showed us the wrong way to rebel, the way the absurdist philosopher Albert Camus criticized in The Rebel. Joyce wanted the adults to “take back” the world, but her solution was the wrong one precisely for that reason. Monsters and witches and Slayers are intrinsic to the world and the world therefore can’t be “taken back” from them. Joyce’s solution denied the absurdity of the world represented in metaphor by monsters, witches and Slayers. She was attempting a revolution in trying to remake the world. That road leads to tyranny. Buffy’s actions in GD2 demonstrate the correct form of rebellion.
Camus described the correct form of rebellion both in The Rebel and in his novel The Plague, in which he “describ[ed] collective action against the evil threatening the community”. Cite. I believe we got a clue to this latter work in Gingerbread when Joyce gave her speech to the crowd at city hall: “I-I was supposed to lead us in a moment of silence, but... silence is this town's disease. For too long we-we've been plagued by unnatural evils. This isn't our town anymore. It belongs to the monsters and, and the witches and the Slayers. … I say it's time for the grownups to take Sunnydale back.” My emphasis. [The fact that Amy becomes a rat – rats spread the plague – may also be a clue. h/t Catherine McKenzie for the idea]
Now let’s look at The Plague. Very briefly, the novel describes a plague in the city of Oran in Algeria, at that time a French colony. Because of the plague, the citizens of Oran feel isolated, not just from the world but from each other:  “The ravages of the plague in Oran vividly convey the absurdist position that humans live in an indifferent, incomprehensible universe that has no rational meaning or order, and no transcendent God. The plague comes unannounced and may strike down anyone at any time. It is arbitrary and capricious, and it leaves humans in a state of fear and uncertainty, which ends only in death.” (Quote is from the Wikipedia entry on the novel.)
That’s the condition of the people of Sunnydale as Joyce described them in Gingerbread (“silence is this town’s disease”), and it’s the condition of the students at Sunnydale High as we saw them in Earshot: “Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they're too busy with their own. … If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion.”
If Camus had really been describing just a disease, it might be more difficult to see the connection between that and Buffy’s world. However, the plague in his novel was a metaphor for the German occupation of France during World War II – Camus was in the Resistance. This makes the situation in the novel much more similar to Buffy’s world, which is occupied by monsters and witches and Slayers. The point of the novel is to identify the correct way to respond to life in such a world.
At this point, think back to Joyce’s comment to Buffy in Gingerbread that her fight was “fruitless” and to Buffy’s dialogue with Angel in which they both acknowledge that they can never win (both quoted in my post on Gingerbread), and consider Wikipedia’s description of the main theme in The Plague:
“In the face of this metaphysical reality, what must be the response of individuals? Should they resign themselves to it, accept it as inevitable, and seek what solace they can as individuals, or should they join with others and fight back, even though they must live with the certainty that they cannot win? Camus's answer is clearly the latter, embodied in the characters of Rieux, … and Tarrou. Rieux's position is made clear in part II in a conversation with Tarrou. Rieux argues that one would have to be a madman to submit willingly to the plague. Rather than accepting the natural order of things — the presence of sickness and death — he believes one must fight against them. He is aware of the needs of the community; he does not live for himself alone. When Tarrou points out that "[his] victories will never be lasting," Rieux admits that he is involved in a "never ending defeat," but this does not stop him from engaging in the struggle.” My emphasis.

As the passage states, the correct response is joining with others and fighting back; Camus’s solution can be described as “solidarity and participation” (quote from link). Buffy’s decision to involve the entire student body is therefore the key to victory:
“It is at first, like The Myth of Sisyphus, a single individual's rebellion, but now Camus stresses that revolt creates values, dignity, and solidarity. “I revolt, therefore we are” is his paradoxical statement. But how can an I lead to a we? How does “we are” follow from “I revolt”? How can the individual's experience of absurdity, and the rebellion against it, stem from, produce, imply, or entail the wider social sense of injustice and solidarity? … Acting against oppression entails having recourse to social values, and at the same time joining with others in solidarity.” (Quote is from link above and applies to The Rebel, but Camus had already written The Plague at that point and the idea is the same.)

In The Prom Buffy acted on her determination to save the other students and give them their special night. The other students recognized that quality in her in their presentation; that was an essential step for their cooperation here. Buffy’s individual determination became a “we” in Graduation Day as they all joined with her in solidarity, a response we saw prefigured in Anne when Buffy joined with Lily to escape Hell. “The idea of the whole school coming together was, thematically, a big part of the arc of that season. It’s like in Earshot … the idea that they all had their own pain, we sort of took that and said ‘now they’re all going to band together, they’re all going to fight together’….” (Joss DVD commentary.)
In my post on The Prom I asked you to consider why Jonathan began his presentation to Buffy with the words “we’re not good friends”. As I see it, the situation is somewhat like Dead Man’s Party. There, Buffy stopped fighting with her friends in order to save them from the zombies. In GD2, Buffy works with students from whom she’s been pretty isolated (or at least felt isolated) for the past 3 years. In each case, the danger, and her sense of duty, guide her to overcome that isolation and lead her peers in the struggle against evil. She began her Slayer duties at Sunnydale as an “I”, but the result of her actions is that by GD2 that “I” becomes “we”.
While the destruction of Sunnydale High was fun, it wasn’t the point of the episode. There are, after all, lots of high schools in the US, every one of them a big square building filled with boredom and despair. And Buffy didn’t even destroy the school, Giles did (though she made the plan). The defeat of the Mayor certainly was one point of the episode, but not, in my view, the most important one. The most important theme was one previewed in Anne and The Prom, namely that Buffy could and did empower her fellow students. What distinguishes Buffy’s response from that of Joyce in Gingerbread is that Buffy has accepted the absurdity of the world and didn’t try to remake it or to deny its inherent absurdity. This was no global revolution or even an attempt to remake Sunnydale itself. It was a rebellion against a particular evil, and Buffy’s revolt created the social values of dignity and solidarity. Buffy’s actions were those of the true adult.
In defining what they defeated in their rebellion, we need to consider the second major theme of S3 and to ask, What does the Mayor represent? As I see him, he represents adult society, certainly patriarchal given the Mayor’s general attitudes, the fact that he became a giant snake, and that Buffy tauntingly referred to him as “Dick”. He wants to devour young people, metaphorically what society tends to do to us when we become adults. It’s an abuse of power (which Joss describes as “the” theme of S3), a form of social control, which is why the Mayor told Mr. Trick in Homecoming that “Do you have children? (Trick just smiles) Children are the heart of a community. (walks around his desk again) They need to be looked after. Controlled. (sits on his desk) The more rebellious element needs to be dealt with.” My emphasis.
This also explains why the Mayor bonds so closely with Faith: because the way society corrupts us is through our dark sides. It provides for our needs at the cost of demanding that we submit to its control and give up our own power of choice (again, see Anne). We saw examples of that control in Choices when he threatened to take away Faith’s present; when he forced her to take her feet off the desk; when he commanded Faith to leave Willow alone; and when he ordered her to his side as they left the cafeteria. The inevitable consequence of that surrender of control by Faith is evident in her stunning admission to Prof. Wirth when he asks her why she’s about to murder him: “you know, I never thought to ask.”
Buffy rebelled against not just the Mayor, but the WC as well. The WC is also a controlling, top-down organization less interested in the Slayer than in its own power. As became apparent in Helpless, the WC wants to control the Slayers and isn’t all that morally concerned about how that’s accomplished. It used its power to refuse her request for help for Angel in an effort to enforce its control over Buffy. She rejected that control on the Slayer side just as she did with the Mayor on her human side. Again, though, she didn’t try to undo the whole Council structure in some revolution. That’s why she made it clear to Wesley that there was no “mutiny”, just graduation.
In short, I see the season theme as the one prefigured in Anne: the need to rebel against a tyrannical, controlling society in which no one is free to create an authentic life. Graduation – escape from the control of high school – represents an opportunity to do that.
That leaves the third theme of the season. Buffy had to deal with her “dark side” as part of the process of growing up. FH&T (see below), BatB, and Homecoming all prefigured the “dark side” theme. This was explored at length in the episodes from Bad Girls through the finale. Consistent with the other existentialist themes, it demonstrated the correct way to create one’s authentic self by showing the contrast between Buffy’s actions and the “bad faith” conduct of Faith.
Before she could defeat the Mayor, Buffy had to integrate her shadow self, just as she’d had to do with Cordelia in Out of Mind, Out of Sight. First Buffy had to take control of her shadow, which she did in the fight at the end of GD1. Paraphrasing from my post on Oom, OoS, Buffy then integrated her shadow when she and Faith shared the dream in GD2. Faith told Buffy to “take what you need”, metaphorically offering her whatever was in Faith’s mind. When she touched Buffy at the end of the dream, Buffy thereby reincorporated the shadow into her personality, producing a stronger, wider consciousness than before. As with every such instance (and remember, this is a constant process throughout life in Jungian theory), this gave Buffy a launching-pad for further growing up.
Metaphorically Buffy had to confront Faith, but we still need to analyze that in terms of the storyline. Was Buffy right when she went after her? In my view she was, so let me explain why.
In his commentary on Bad Girls, Doug Petrie refers to Faith as “Buffy’s evil twin”. This should remind you of what Buffy said when Faith first showed up in FH&T: “I’m the one being single white femaled here.” It should remind you of that movie because the movie involved a young woman who had lost her twin sister and tried to create a new twin out of her roommate. The movie plot served as the outline for this portion of the season. Here’s a summary of the plot of the movie Single White Female which I edited and quoted from Wikipedia in my post on FH&T:
“Allie has recently broken up with her boyfriend and advertises for a new roommate. She eventually settles on Hedra, whom she immediately nicknames "Hedy", and they become friends. Hedy says she had a twin sister who died … After a few weeks, however, Hedy reveals her true nature: secretive, manipulative and deeply disturbed. Fearing she will be kicked out of the apartment in favor of [Allie’s boyfriend], Hedy does everything possible to make [the boyfriend] look bad, even killing a puppy and making it look like it was his fault. Hedy then copies Allie's appearance, right down her hairstyle [i.e., creating a twin]. … [Allie] follows an unaware Hedy that night to an underground sex club, and witnesses her passing herself off as Allie. Hedy, posing as Allie, sneaks into [the boyfriend’s] hotel room and performs oral sex on him. Afterwards Hedy attempts to blackmail [the boyfriend] but he insists on telling Allie the truth. Hedy kills him by gouging his eye with her stiletto heel. As she leaves his apartment complex, the doorman mistakes her for Allie. …Hedy takes Allie captive at gunpoint and threatens to frame Allie for the boyfriend’s death. … She is about to execute Allie, when Allie pleads "don't make me leave you". Hedy is convinced that Allie has come to realize her place as a twin, and plans to run away with her, until she catches Allie making another attempt to escape. A violent fight ensues,…. The struggle ends with Allie stabbing Hedy to death. The film ends with a close-up of a photograph presumably made by Hedy of their faces superimposed into one.”

I summarized the plot at some length because I think it bears a resemblance to the Buffy/Faith relationship over the season, and that this was signaled from the very beginning. Specifically on the plotline I’d note that Buffy had recently “broken up” with her boyfriend (Becoming); the Slayer line had a vacancy after Kendra died (same); the disturbed nature of Faith (FH&T); Faith attempted to frame Buffy for the death of Allan Finch (Consequences); the attempt to seduce Buffy’s restored boyfriend (Enemies); the attempt to “blackmail” Angel in Enemies; Faith told Buffy in Enemies “kill me and you become me”; Faith attempted to kill Angel (GD1); Faith took Buffy captive (Enemies); Buffy stabbed Faith and Faith told her “you killed me” (GD1); the dream in which Faith offered her stuff to Buffy, metaphorically offering her what’s in Faith’s mind, IOW a merger of the two. (There’s additional evidence which supports this reading, but it’s a spoiler for S4.) Now, the equivalence is not perfect, but in outline the plot elements are there, even if in somewhat different order. The reason this works is because SWF reads as though Hedy was a metaphor for Allie’s shadow self.
What Faith really seemed to want was to seduce (word used advisedly, given the not-so-subtle lesbian subtext in both S3 and in SWF) Buffy into corruption as she herself had been corrupted (i.e., they would become twins). That was Hedy’s goal in Single White Female. The essential question in the fight was whether Buffy would kill Faith. In Enemies Faith told her “kill me and you become me.” In GD1 Xander told Buffy he was worried about the confrontation because he “didn’t want to lose [her].” The dialogue before the fight reinforces both the potential consequences and the “evil twin”/Single White Female theme:
“Faith: Come to get me? You gonna feed me to Angel? You know you're not going to take me alive.
Buffy: Not a problem.
Faith: Well, look at you. All dressed up in big sister's clothes. [Buffy is dressed like Faith.]
Buffy: You told me I was just like you.”

If I’ve interpreted this correctly, Buffy was right to confront Faith. I agree with Willow in Choices – Faith may have had it tough, but that can’t excuse going over to the dark side. Faith abused her Slayer power, consistent with the season theme; she’s the “vessel” (Joss’s term) for exploring the potential for Buffy’s abuse of power and the corruptive (Joss’s term) nature of power. Joss describes Faith as “everything that Buffy would never let herself be”.
Faith gave up her autonomy and ended up not much more than the Mayor’s tool, the paradigm case of existentialist bad faith. Had she been human Buffy would and should have left her to the law, but Buffy’s writ runs to the mystical and that includes a Slayer gone bad who’s actively harming Buffy’s allies.
We could question the plan of feeding Faith to Angel, though there was some sense in it because it meant saving Angel’s life. Surely nobody would object if Buffy had killed Faith in order to stop her from staking Angel, and that’s pretty much what she was doing. But whether you agree with this or not, ultimately Buffy and Faith were going to confront each other. The fact that it was at this time and for that reason doesn’t seem to matter much. Faith couldn’t be left free to damage other lives and Buffy was the only one able to stop her.
The plan to bring Faith to Angel left matters neatly ambiguous regarding Buffy’s goal and the potential consequences. In the event, Buffy didn’t kill Faith and offered herself to Angel instead. That scene was certainly the most blatantly erotic use the show ever made of the “biting = sex” metaphor. It was the concrete manifestation of Angel’s metaphorical dream in The Prom of fire consuming Buffy, all the more meaningful after The First told him in Amends “you will drink her”. We can wonder how it might have played out if Faith had taken Buffy’s place.
Xander, of course, criticized Angel for jeopardizing Buffy’s life to save his own. It wasn’t quite that simple – it rarely is when it comes to Xander’s prejudices. Buffy’s willingness to sacrifice herself in order to save others is an essential part of what makes her not just a successful Slayer but a great one. Her action here was different in degree but not in kind from what she does every single night. I also see a strong Christian resonance in the scene: this is my blood you drink. And it saves you.
But just because Buffy offered doesn’t mean Angel had to “accept”. In a way, this brings us back to the nature of Angel which I discussed at length in Amends. It showed that Angel’s self-control is less certain and more at risk than we might have thought from recent events. The ambiguity that creates will be exploited when Angel walks off through the smoke to his own show.
Trivia notes: (1) Lurconis (Band Candy) was a snake demon which ate children, prefiguring the Mayor’s Ascension. If you revel in the small details, the courier in Choices who brought the box of Gavrock wore snakeskin boots and had a snake tattoo on his face. (2) Revelations prefigured the plot points in which Faith tried to kill Angel and Buffy fought her to save his life, just as we saw here. The fight between them even featured crashing through glass to a patio, just as it did here. The physical fight was a metaphor for the internal battle Buffy fought with her dark side. (3) If you’re watching for the first time, the dream sequence was no doubt cryptic. Keep it in mind – it’s also a prophecy and I think I can safely say it’s the most important one in the entire series. (4) They made so much noise blowing up the school that the city of Torrance (the site of the high school we see in the show) wouldn’t let them come back. (5) Faith’s line to Buffy just before they fight – “Give us a kiss” – is from Jaws. So is Xander’s “we’re going to need a bigger boat.” (6) When the Mayor tells Angel “someone’s been eating his spinach”, that’s a reference to the Popeye cartoons. Popeye would get instantly strong after eating a can of spinach, just as Angel instantly recovered by drinking Buffy. (7) The Mayor’s speech actually expressed some of the themes of the show: “Journey's end.  And what is a journey?  Is it just… distance traveled?  Time spent?  No.  It's what happens on the way, it’s the things that happen to you.  At the end of the journey you're not the same.  Today is about change. Graduation doesn't just mean your circumstances change, it means *you* do.  You ascend… to a higher level.   Nothing will ever be the same.” (8) When Principal Snyder was eaten, did you think back to his very first scene when he appeared for the very first time in The Puppet Show: “My predecessor, Mr. Flutie, may have gone in for all that touchy-feely relating nonsense, but he was eaten.”? (9) When Buffy tauntingly addressed the SnakeMayor as “Dick”, I think we can safely assume a double entendre. (10) As Buffy surveyed the wreckage of the school, remember Willow’s suggestion to her in The Harvest for one way to get kicked out of school: “Maybe you could blow something up.” Yes, I think Joss intended that all along, if he got the chance. (11) Like Earshot, GD2 was delayed because of Columbine. Set to air in May, it eventually appeared on July 13, 1999. (12) In case you were wondering about the production of Buffy episodes, Pop Matters interviewed Harry Groener (the Mayor) and he had this to say:
PM: As a professional actor working with Joss Whedon as a professional writer/director, what can you say you learned from Whedon while on the set of Buffy?
HG: …What I learned about the business through him was interesting. He’s so brilliant in his work—in his writing, his mind, and his imagination. You think that everything in television is fairly controlled, and it is. Pretty much. Things don’t go so crazy. Yet for the last two episodes [of the third season], we didn’t have a script. We were given synopses at the end of the evening about what they were going to film the next day. But no words, no script, no anything. They just said, “Come on in, and when we have it, we’ll give it to you.”
PM: Sounds a little scary to me! [Both laugh.]
HG: Yes, I’ve always had a script. There’s never been just a synopsis. You go to work, you get ready to work. What Joss was doing was actually writing it as we were traveling, getting there. And we’d wait. Finally, they’d say, “We have the first scene.” You’d get the scene; then you’d go and rehearse it. They’d light it. And while they were lighting it or rehearsing it, Joss was over there in the corner on the set, literally over in the corner, writing the next scene. You think, Well, that I’ve never seen before. You’re amazed that that can happen, especially now when you have a room full of people deciding on one little thing. That’s fascinating.

11 comments:

  1. Mark, awesome write-up! Followed you over here from the Onion AV Club, and really enjoying your episode-by-episode tour through BUFFY. Keep up the great work!

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  2. Thank you! I really appreciate the compliments.

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  3. Just wondering, will you do a similar guide for Angel ?

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    1. The short answer is no. Two reasons really:

      1. I haven't watched AtS episodes as often as I've watched Buffy, and I haven't given them nearly as much thought. I just don't think I have that much to add.

      2. It takes me quite a bit of time to write these posts. The thought of doubling my work is kind of daunting.

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  4. Your analysis seems spot-on. I'm really glad that you mention The Plague; it's one of my favorites. One difference I see between Graduation and Gingerbread is that in the latter case, Joyce's and others' "revolt" was part of the disease, not a true rebellion. It was falsely incited panic. As you imply, the real struggle is against tyranny, and both episodes explore the corruptible nature of power--and the power of corruption. I really enjoy the self-determinism on display in Graduation. It contrasts nicely with Gingerbread to show how people can make individual choices to work together, as opposed to giving into mob rule. I also like the metaphor (intentional or not) of tyrannical power eventually consuming itself (Mayor and Snyder).

    It looks like you're into S4 now, so I should be caught up with you soon! As I recall, that season left me as disoriented as did my own freshman year of college.

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  5. "Fire bad, tree pretty" - my response to this post (Kidding, I just don't have anything meaningful to add)

    I do have a production comment/question. Is the hospital scene with Buffy, Angel, Faith, and the Mayor all one continuous three-minute take? Awhile ago I was watching this episode and was suddenly really impressed by the music and camerawork in that scene. I wouldn't have noticed this if Joss didn't like to mention the oners in his commentaries, though that makes sense since he said the point isn't to notice but to subtly add to the quality. And I agree, that scene glides, flows, and builds. It's not the most affecting piece of the finale but it's still pretty darn great.

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    1. That's a good question. Joss usually does mention stuff like that in his commentary, but there's no commentary for GD (sob). I'm not personally knowledgeable enough to be able to tell just from watching the scene.

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  6. Hey Mark,

    I'm a little late to the party and I'm not sure if you're still looking at comments to these wonderful posts you have here, but I just wanted to take a quick second to thank you for taking the time to write such exhaustive essays on the subject matter.

    I Picked up Buffy a few days ago on a whim after catching a syndicated episode on FX and honestly haven't been able to get the series out of my head, and that's due in large part to my coming here after every episode in excitement to read what you have to say.

    That being said, I have a few questions and comments I felt a sudden need to share (sorry, but none of my friends are in to this stuff so this is where I have to get it all out).

    Firstly, you seem to regard BtVS, with all these metaphorical connotations, as an allegory for Buffy's (teenage) growth. Is that correct? I wondering mainly because I have a touch of an issue here because it would be my understanding, then, that a character like Xander would ALWAYS have to represent Buffy's heart, and I think there are definitely moments within the series where he kind of guys against this designated role.

    speaking of Xander, the only real defense I have for his lie is the fact that I don't really think it affected anything (weak, I know). But the sword was drawn, Angel, sadly, had to die. I get what you're saying, but I'm not sure about the "military necessity" aspect (you yourself state that this is probably the wrong term), only because I don't view the Scoobies as a kind of military hierarchy. In the end though, I kind of think its like what you said, if Xander's motives were born purely from a utlitarian aspect (i.e. "the greater good") or a desire to protect Buffy in some obscure fashion, then maybe I could respect his decision a little bit, but I don't believe that's the case at all. I firmly believe that sometimes, how you feel is more important than what you do, this is one of those cases.

    You broke my heart with Passion.

    Becoming Part 1 and 2 were awesome. That's really all.

    Your essay on Amends nearly changed my life. I'm going to be going to college soon and I think what you said alone may have made me want to be a philosophy major. I honestly have no idea what exactly a vampire is in terms of the Buffy Verse. You completely lost me on that one, but I don't hold any of Angel's actions against him. I don't think he and Angelous are the same, but I have no idea what a vampire is. There's always some part of the self in there it seems, yet, what is humanity without its essence? There's something within all of us that makes us, US, at least I think there is. Sorry if that made no sense. I think its curious too that you say we never really find out what brings Angel back, maybe that goes along with the absurdist/existentialist theme?



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    1. First of all, welcome to the Buffyverse! And thanks for the very nice comments.

      Yes, you're right that I see the series as allegory of growing up. However, don't think that Xander *always* serves as "Buffy's heart". He does many times, but sometimes he's just a character in his own right. I think reasonable people can differ on just what distinguishes those situations, though there are times when the show will state directly that Xander is Buffy's heart. Sorry if that leaves it a little vague, but I'll try to separate things out best I can.

      I agree that there's a good argument that the Lie didn't affect the outcome in Becoming 2. The real damage, I think, comes from its impact on Buffy's relationships with Willow and Xander, as I describe in some of the early S3 episodes (e.g., Dead Man's Party) and will talk about more in S7.

      That's very nice of you to say about Passion, but it's Joss who broke all our hearts. :(

      I guess that as a good existentialist, I'll have to take responsibility for your new college major. :) I thought about philosophy as a major, but ended up with Poli Sci, where, ironically I read Sartre and Camus.

      Good point about the possible absurdist theme in Angel's return. I hadn't thought of that, but it's very plausible, especially given the themes explored in Amends and Gingerbread. Sorry if I lost you in all the discussion about Angel's soul. I worried about that when writing it and tried to lay it out as clearly as I could, but I should re-visit it and see if I can't tighten it up. At least you and I come to the same conclusion.

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  7. Now, for season three, what do you make of Faith and the Mayor's relationship? I totally agree with your point that Faith has made herself a tool rather than a person, but the Mayor's genuine care for the girl really throws me for some reason. Your point about her being a foil for Buffy makes sense, but if that's the case, is the mayor a Giles imitation? That seems a stretch.My assumption is that it was mainly done as a means to make Faith seem more sympathetic (which was hard, at this point) because she's probably going to reappear in later seasons (?).

    Lastly, I have two questions: first, I've read a few places that its good to now watch Angel and Buffy in alternating episodes, is this something you would recommend? Secondly, does the series stay this good? I know that's so silly to ask but I've LOVED these last two seasons so much that I'm actually seriously worrying myself.

    Anyway, Mainly, I just want to say again thanks for doing these posts, they've honestly enhancing my viewing experience exponentially and have no doubt made me better understand the series as a whole than I otherwise would have. I can't imagine the work this must have taken you, but the information is excellent.

    All the best, and sorry about the sudden onslaught of text 2 years later.

    I'm terrible with being concise...and also sorry my name is initially so weird haha

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    1. Is the Mayor a Giles dark side? I certainly wouldn't say no to that, though it's not as obvious as the Buffy/Faith connection. Very definitely, though, the relationship between Faith and the Mayor is one of the highlights of the season and you *will* see future reference to it.

      You can mostly alternate AtS and Buffy episodes, but there will come times in later seasons when the episodes aren't set up quite so conveniently. If you can find the episode air dates (Wikipedia should give them; just watch out for spoilers), you can keep track pretty easily.

      Your question about the seasons raises a controversial point. A good many viewers love S1-3 and aren't wild about the later seasons. Others prefer the later ones, especially 5-7. I'm kind of in the latter category because those later seasons have a significant number of great episodes. But I'll always have a special place in my heart for S2.

      Feel free to drop a comment on any episode. I get notification of all comments and I'll respond. And thanks again.

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