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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Gift

[Updated May 2, 2013]

From the moment Buffy has her epiphany on the tower, I start losing it, no matter how often I’ve seen The Gift. Joss Whedon always said that he never worried too much about plot details if he could cut through to the emotional truth. In S5 I think he combined plot and emotional truth incredibly well. While my views on which is the best season are intense but variable, to quote Anya, on a given day S5 is my favorite season.
I’ll start with the ending, because that’s the whole point of the season. Indeed, it’s the whole point of the series. Buffy’s dive off the tower is the end of her journey. As you know, my view is that Buffy’s journey was one of becoming an adult. As I read it, her dive represents the fact that she’s leaving childhood behind and launching herself into the new dimension of adulthood. James Marsters: “Thematically, I think that [Joss] tied up his original premise, which is how does a young child become an adult and pass through adolescence. And all of us vampires are just metaphors for those problems. I think that in the moment that she sacrificed her life to save her sister she became a true adult.”

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Weight of the World

[Updated May 2, 2013]

It may seem, to steal a line from Willow, as if The Weight of the World is mostly filler, but in my view it serves a very important purpose: it shows us that Buffy rejects – or maybe overcomes – Spike’s claim in Fool For Love that Slayers have a death wish. In order to show this I need to go through the dialogue very carefully, so bear with me.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Spiral

[Updated May 2, 2013]

Spiral makes explicit the full implications of The Replacement. We’ve known since Blood Ties that Ben and Glory share the same body, but the consequences weren’t spelled out until now. Since Glory and Ben share the same body, they can’t exist apart from each other: “Kill the man and the god dies”. In case it’s not obvious, I’ll state unequivocally the choices Gregor presents to Buffy: kill Ben to destroy Glory (though when he says this the characters themselves don’t know that Ben is Glory); or kill Dawn to save the world from Glory. You should be thinking about these choices and the moral issues they raise as we move towards the finale.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tough Love

[Updated May 2, 2013]

Who’s the object of Tough Love in this episode? One obvious answer is Dawn, given Buffy’s treatment of her. Or maybe it’s Ben getting the advice to “take responsibility”. Perhaps it refers to the fight between Willow and Tara. It could mean any or all of these, but in my view the title refers to Buffy.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Intervention

[Updated May 2, 2013]

He who does battle with monsters needs to watch out lest he in the process becomes a monster himself.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

For all that there’s a good deal of humor in Intervention, it’s got a very serious point to it. This episode lays out in express terms Buffy’s feeling of separation between her human half and her Slayer half, a feeling which we saw prefigured in The Replacement, and which has been reinforced since by the recognition that Glory and Ben actualize the “separate parts in a single body” which Buffy feels. Buffy’s concern now is that the Slayer side is winning, that she’s becoming “hard”:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Forever

[Updated May 1, 2013]

Forever provides an opportunity for Buffy to grieve, while giving us a major clue to Dawn’s role this season. It also raises some disturbing issues about other characters which will be explored at more length later on.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Body

[Updated May 1, 2013]

There’s a lot of television I’ve never seen, so I can’t say The Body is the very best episode of any show ever. I can’t even say that it’s the very best episode of Buffy, because it has close competition (IMO) from Passion and OMWF. It’s a real tribute to the show, in fact, that an episode as incredibly good as The Body can have competition for “best” and that still others are nearly as good. What I can say is that The Body has to be on a very short list among the greatest television episodes of all time.