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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Seeing Red

[Updated May 2, 2013]

The episode Seeing Red was a flash point in the popular culture of BtVS, so I need to provide some background before I get to the episode itself. One notable feature of the series, which I mentioned briefly in my Introduction, is how it became embedded in culture. The show debuted in March 1997, just as the internet was beginning to come into widespread use. By Season 6 there were so many Buffy sites I’m sure nobody could keep track of them all. They had become the water cooler around which the fans met to debate each episode. The writers were aware of fan reaction to each episode because they read some of the sites as well and occasionally even posted at The Bronze.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Entropy

[Updated May 2, 2013]

Another outstanding episode, Entropy is part of a very good run from NA through Villains. The Spike/Anya scenes are just terrific; JM and EC first demonstrated their chemistry in WTWTA and they steal the show in Entropy. Their story is important in their own right, of course, but also in this episode because of the effect their actions have on Buffy and Xander (both as a character and as Buffy’s heart).

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Normal Again

[Updated May 2, 2013]

Normal Again is another one of the reasons I think S6, at its best, is brilliant. It’s a Top Ten episode for me, one of at least 4 this season (along with OMWF, Smashed, and Dead Things). I think of it as Buffy’s last temptation before her incarnation as an adult who accepts her responsibilities. And yeah, I’m using that vocabulary intentionally.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hell's Bells

[Updated May 2, 2013]


“We know what we are, but not what we may be.” Hamlet, Act IV, sc. 5.
Metaphorically, Xander couldn’t marry Anya in Hell's Bells. He’s Buffy’s “heart”, and this season her heart is unsure, conflicted. We’ve seen that uncertainty in her half-hearted pursuit of the Trio and in her relationship with Spike. We’ll know Buffy has recovered from her malaise when her heart is sure again. And vice versa.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

As You Were

[Updated May 2, 2013]

Anyone who’s so obsessive as to rank all 144 BtVS episodes (ahem) will, necessarily, have one which finishes dead last at No. 144. For me, that episode is As You Were, one of only 2 episodes I actually dislike (the other is Dead Man’s Party). I’ll summarize the reasons why without even mentioning the “Mary Sue” nature of Mrs. Finn or the addiction dialogue.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Older And Far Away

[Updated May 2, 2013]

In S3-5, episode 11 gave us a clue to the season finale by presenting a version of Buffy’s challenge in the finale and giving us a solution which was either wrong (Gingerbread) or incomplete in some way (Triangle). For reasons I don’t know, in S6, as in S2, it’s episode 14, Older and Far Away, which gives us this clue. I won’t say anything more in order to avoid spoilers.
I think OAFA is extremely well constructed – the demon trapped in the sword, the gang trapped in the house. And Buffy feeling trapped in her life.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dead Things

[Updated May 2, 2013]

Dead Things epitomizes S6 for me. If a darker, more disturbing episode has ever been shown on American network TV, I’m certainly unaware of it. From the infamous “Bronze beta” scene (see trivia note 8) to Katrina bringing the nerds up short with her rape accusation to her murder to the haunting chords and matching lyrics of Bush while Buffy and Spike sense each other’s presence to the nightmare time distortions to Buffy beating Spike to her breakdown with Tara, the episode is one *intense* emotional ride.
I think it’s bloody brilliant. For me, this episode is one of the highlights of S6 – indeed, one of the 10 or so best episodes in the show’s history – and it highlights for me why S6, though it may deserve criticism at times, was one of the most daring and innovative seasons of television ever produced. Some of those highlights:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Doublemeat Palace

[Updated May 2, 2013]

I’m reliably informed that people who’ve worked in the fast food industry find Doublemeat Palace funny. Most viewers didn’t like it and it regularly gets rated among the worst in the series. The episode doesn’t do much for me either, but I do think there’s a point to it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gone

[Updated May 2, 2013]

Notwithstanding the nearly disastrous consequences of Willow’s escapism in Wrecked, and notwithstanding her conversation with Willow at the end of Wrecked, Buffy finds herself drawn back into an even more extreme form of escapism in Gone. Some viewers were frustrated with Buffy’s plunge back into the depths, and Gone is generally a low-rated episode. But as I said before, the Magic Box sequence in Life Serial was important in foreshadowing a theme of S6 and we’re beginning to see that Buffy hasn’t yet figured out how to “satisfy a customer [in this case herself] with a task that resists solving.” This strikes me as very true to life for those suffering from depression.
If one is really depressed, I guess it can seem like a good idea to take a free pass from adulthood. Like the Trio (and Warren emphasizes it by telling Jonathan and Andrew “You guys are so immature!”), Buffy’s entire goal in Gone is to do juvenile things while avoiding responsibility. Her conversation with Willow at the end may be a small step up from where she was at the end of OMWF, in the sense that she’s now accepting life itself, but she hasn’t reached the stage of accepting adult responsibilities. Spike drives home the message: “Free of life? Got another name for that. Dead.”