Follow by Email

Monday, December 31, 2012

Him

[Updated May 3, 2013]

The question you should be asking about Him is “who’s the ‘him’”? There’s an obvious “him” in Him: R.J. But the entire teaser focuses on Spike. It begins with Spike moving into Xander’s apartment, and then shifts to Dawn and Buffy discussing Spike. The teaser always sets up the episode. Thus, I think we need to see the title as referring to Spike as well. There are several clues to this effect throughout the episode:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Selfless

[Updated May 3, 2013]

Season 7 has its critics, but I’ve never seen anyone who dislikes Selfless (this being the internet, I’m sure someone will now prove me wrong). It’s in my top 25, and it’s one of many reasons I personally rate S7 so highly. I think it’s a perfect example of what Joss meant when he said that we would understand S6 much better when we saw S7 – Anya’s story here couldn’t be told without the background of Hell’s Bells and succeeding episodes.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Help

[Updated May 3, 2013]

In my view, Help plays the same functional role for S7 that Inca Mummy Girl played in S2. Ampata was a Chosen girl who sucked the life out of others for her own selfish purposes. That’s exactly what Buffy saw herself as having done with Angel, as her emotional reaction in IOHEFY showed:
“Buffy:  No. James destroyed the one person he loved the most in a moment of blind passion. And that's not something you forgive. No matter why he did what he did. And no matter if he knows now that it was wrong and selfish and stupid, it is just something he's gonna have to live with.”

Buffy gave in to her selfish desire when she slept with Angel and that sucked the (metaphorical) life out of him. She therefore saw herself as worse than even Ampata; she failed a “chosen one” test.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Same Time, Same Place

[Updated May 3, 2013]

When I first saw Same Time, Same Place, I thought the Gnarl demon was too heavy-handed. In thinking about it since, I realized it works both metaphorically and in the context of the plot. As metaphor, Gnarl represents Buffy’s fears about Willow.
As plot, I think we should see Gnarl as born of Willow’s guilt about how her friends perceive her:
GNARL (O.S.)
Your friends left you here. (singing) No one comes to save you. (talking) They wanted me to have you.
Did they leave you as a gifty for me? Are you a tasty little gifty? … Or did they just throw you away?

Gnarl then punishes Willow as her sense of guilt leads her to feel that she should be punished. The entire situation, then, was something she herself created, just as she created their mutual inability to see each other.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Beneath You

[Updated May 3, 2013]

The closing scene of Beneath You is, IMHO, the best dramatic scene in the entire series (Joss wrote it). When S6 first aired, I had a lot of criticisms of Spike’s storyline from Seeing Red through Grave. I gave them all up when I saw this scene. It’s so transcendently beautiful that the set-up is worth it.
Joss said later that one thing he wanted to explore in S7 was the extent of forgiveness – what evil can be done yet still be forgivable. The ending of BY is a key moment for this exploration, but there will be many others throughout the season.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lessons

[Updated May 3, 2013]

“It’s about power.” Those words open Season 7 and close Lessons, and so it is about power – Season 7, I mean. Not in the sense we understood it in Checkpoint (where we hear Buffy say these very words to Quentin Travers), nor in the sense that something similar was said in TTG and in Grave, but in a very different way entirely. The whole point of S7 is to explore what the show means by “power”.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Grave

[Updated May 2, 2013]

Grave is the only finale which was not written by Joss and the only one to end on a cliffhanger. For these reasons and others, as I mentioned in my post on Bargaining, I’ve come to think of seasons 6 and 7 as an extended two-year arc which comes to completion only with Chosen. That makes Grave less a conclusion than a transition. If you look at the seasons this way – roughly, IMO, as the two seasons which deal with Buffy as an adult subsequent to the five seasons she spent becoming an adult – then it makes sense both that Grave ended with issues unresolved  and that it would seem less like the other finales. Joss: “I've said this before, that I think when people look at the seventh season, as a story, they'll understand season six better.”

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Two to Go

[Updated May 2, 2013]

Let’s say this right upfront: Giles’s entry into the Magic Box at the end of Two to Go is one of the great moments of the series. Maybe not quite as good as Buffy’s “Me.” in Becoming 2, but still damn fine.
Alas, the rest of this episode is pretty much a train wreck. The problems include the return with a vengeance [heh] of the magic/drugs theme, complete with hit-us-over-the-head terminology; the low quality of the special effects; and some fairly pedestrian dialogue. But the real problem is much more substantial than any of these and cuts right at the heart of not just this episode, but the whole end of the season.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Villains

[Updated May 2, 2013]

“Rage – Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles…”
I think Villains is an excellent episode, but it presents us with some difficult ethical issues. I’ll hold off on those for a bit and start with my metaphorical reading of the episode because I think it’s crucial to Buffy’s journey in S6.