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Monday, July 30, 2012

Family

[Updated May 1, 2013]


I see Family and NPLH as a two-parter; Family opens the same night as NPLH ended. Both episodes deal with someone who’s not technically a member of the family, but who is accepted into it through love. One deals with Buffy/Dawn, the other with Willow/Tara, the teaser highlighting both stories. Tara’s story of the kitty can even serve as an allegory for what happens to Dawn and to her:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

No Place Like Home

[Updated May 1, 2013]

No Place Like Home introduces the villain of S5. Her name is Glory and it shows up in the transcript, though nobody speaks it in this episode; we’ll learn it soon enough. In Real Me we were introduced to Dawn and I raised the question whether she served as a metaphor, at least for some purposes. The villains almost always serve a metaphorical role, so we now should be asking whether Glory does and, if so, what that role is. There is, I think, a small hint in The Replacement, but it’s pretty obscure except in hindsight. In addition, we’d expect the metaphor to fit within the season themes which I’ve previously identified. I’m hinting, but I don’t want to spoil, so as with Dawn I’ll discuss Glory’s metaphorical role in detail in the finale.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Out Of My Mind

[Updated May 1, 2013]

If one theme of S5 is, as I said regarding The Replacement, “split personality”, then an episode entitled Out Of My Mind seems like an obvious sequel. There are 2 stories here of mental issues, those of Riley and Spike, both of whom go a bit crazy about Buffy (or because of Buffy, depending on how you see it). I guess I could include Joyce and her fainting spell as a mental issue, but I’ll leave her aside for now because that’s a bit unclear. I might also include Buffy, since her behavior in the teaser seemed to be another display of the “hunting” we saw in Buffy v. Dracula. And since I think every episode is about Buffy in some way, this might be a clue that what I’m about to say about Riley and Spike will eventually come back to her. Not necessarily in this post, though.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Replacement

[Updated May 1, 2013]

Three episodes into the season and as usual we’ve gotten the themes which will play out the rest of the year, as well as foreshadowing of the major plot lines. Fortunately, The Replacement gives us a theme I can discuss even now because it doesn’t require spoilers. It also sets up a plot point for later which I will hold off discussing until it comes up.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Real Me

[Updated May 1, 2013]

I like Real Me quite a bit, but I’m kind of trapped by my no spoilers policy when it comes to writing about it. The episode is telling us so much about the rest of the season that anything I say might give away key details of plot or metaphor.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Buffy v. Dracula

[Updated May 1, 2013]

It obviously helps, in watching Buffy v. Dracula, if you’re familiar with the Dracula story, beginning with Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, because this episode contains a great many references to its various versions over the years. I’ll note the ones which aren’t explained (more or less) in the episode.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Restless

[Updated May 1, 2013]

Many of the commenters at AtPO were of the view that “all things lead to Restless”. By this they meant that the episode works both forward and backwards. Looking back, it gives insight into previous episodes by telling us how Joss saw the characters up through that point in time. “I thought a nice coda to the season, which had been very anarchic and sort of upheavely season, would be to do a piece that just commented on the four characters we had grown to know and love, and where they were in their lives, what they felt about things and each other….” (Joss DVD commentary; all quotes from Joss below come from the same source.)
Looking forward, it sets the stage for seasons 5-7. Many of the themes and images from Restless will be used in future episodes. This is specifically true of the prophetic aspects of Buffy’s dream (see below), but it’s also true in many other respects as well.
I might not be quite as enthusiastic in my acceptance of the “all things lead to Restless” view as some, but I do think it’s generally true and a very useful way to explore the themes of the episode and the show generally.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Primeval

[Updated May 1, 2013]


Unlike every other season, S4 has its climactic events in the penultimate episode. Primeval “concludes” the season, but the brilliant coda of Restless gives us closure. Because it comes right before Restless, Primeval is often overlooked or criticized, but I really enjoy the episode and can re-watch it repeatedly.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Yoko Factor

[Updated May 1, 2013]

The Yoko Factor threads together several of the themes we’ve seen earlier in the season. The disputes among the SG were foreshadowed in Pangs, and their insecurities in Fear, Itself. Spike aggravates the insecurities of the SG, playing on them to bring their fears to the surface. That causes Buffy’s family to fall apart, setting up the events of Primeval.