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Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Update

I just updated the ebook at Amazon. I made changes which will, I hope, improve readability. There are just minor changes otherwise. It takes about 12 hours for the new version to be available; I understand that those who already own it should be able to get the updated version.

The book is available here.

ETA: There are spoilers in the comments below because the book covers all 7 seasons.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

No spoilers in this post. Just speculation, though I'm not even sure it rises to the level of that. Call it "gut reaction".

What I'm about to say originated, as so often, with a comment by shadowkat. After the premiere, she said that Skye (Chloe Bennett) reminded her of Faith (Eliza Dushku). Not only do they look vaguely alike, but shadowkat felt that their mannerisms were similar and the dialogue suggested character similarities.

After last night's episode, I decided she's right. Or at least close to right. Chloe Bennett does look a bit like Eliza, and other things reinforce that. But I'm going to modify her suggestion to say that last night's plot, especially the ending, convinced me that the model isn't Faith, it's Echo (Dollhouse, for those who haven't seen it).

I'm speculating that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Joss's chance to do what he wanted to do with Dollhouse, but wasn't able to because the network kept interfering. The fact that his brother and sister in law, both of whom were involved in Dollhouse, are very actively involved here seems like another clue.

If I were to start with this assumption and draw inferences, I could make some guesses where the plot is going. I could also suggest some character matches between the two shows. I won't do that because I don't want to spoil things for anyone, but if you've seen Dollhouse, I suspect you'll begin to note some similarities.

I'll check back in as we go through the season to see how this post holds up.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Joss's Top 3

This week's issue of Entertainment Weekly has an interview with Joss. If you haven't seen it, among other things, he mentions what he considers his top 3 episodes from all of his shows: The Body; Once More With Feeling; and Objects in Space (Firefly).

I think that's right, and I expect that judgment will hold up over time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Quick note about "updates"

I just now realized that the page breaks I used in most of the posts had the effect of messing up the formatting by deleting the line break before the next paragraph. As a result the paragraph right after the page break wasn't separated and it could be confusing to read. I went through and (I hope) fixed that. There are no "updates" other than this clean up.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Site update

At the urging of red satin doll, I've added a link feature over on the right below the search function. The links go to the Introduction and to each season. That way, you find all the episodes for a given season collected together (though in reverse order). I hope that makes navigating the site easier.

If anyone has other suggestions, feel free to make them. I haven't spent much time figuring out how to get blogger to do stuff, so I may be overlooking a lot.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

100,000!

100,000 page views, that is. And less than half of them are mine. I swear.

Thanks to everyone for reading. I never expected that so many would.

Special thanks to everyone who's commented -- you enriched both this site and my own view of the show.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Top 10 Lists

Entertainment Weekly's latest issue has a bunch of Top 10 and Top 100 lists for different categories (best TV show, best drama, etc.). Top 10 lists are fun, but they tend to be pretty subjective and not very convincing to those who don't share your tastes. Still, EW ranked Buffy pretty high on several lists, so I thought I'd comment on them.

Buffy rated No. 1 in the science fiction category. This is nice, except that the show wasn't sci-fi by any reasonable definition. I guess they meant fantasy/sci-fi, because they didn't have a fantasy category. The rest of the top 10, though, was sci-fi.

Buffy also rated No. 2 in the category Cult Classics, behind The Wire. It finished No. 3 in the Best Drama category, behind The Wire and The Sopranos.

I never watched The Sopranos (I don't have HBO and never picked up The Sopranos later), but I have seen The Wire and liked it a lot so I thought I'd explain why I think Buffy was the better show.

First, the best episodes of The Wire don't match up to the best of Buffy. The Wire was more consistently written -- no episode of that show is even close to as bad as, say, I Robot, You Jane. But Buffy hits peaks in episodes like Passion, The Body, and OMWF that The Wire can't match. I'm a big believer that peak performance counts for a lot (see my discussion of Mozart in the Introduction), so Buffy gets the nod.

Second, Buffy ran far longer than The Wire. The Wire only had about 50 episodes total, while Buffy had 144. This is important: most shows decline over time, and The Wire is so consistent in part because it never went through that phase (and at that, S5 wasn't up to the standards of 1-4). If we were to take just the top 40-50 or so episodes of Buffy, the seeming advantage The Wire had in consistency of writing would disappear. Moreover, Buffy then produced an additional (arbitrary) number of very fine episodes above and beyond that. Again, the advantage goes to Buffy.

Third, I can re-watch Buffy almost endlessly (and have). I think The Wire is terrific and liked it enough to watch it three times, but at that point felt I'd gotten all there was to get. I take this to mean that Buffy has layers -- depth, if you will -- that The Wire can't match.

In short, my Top 10 list is objectively better than EW's. :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

10 Reasons to Watch Buffy

My friend shadowkat had a terrific post on her livejournal page to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Chosen. With her permission, since not everyone has access to lj, I'm re-posting it here.

SPOILERS FOR ALL 7 SEASONS

There's a meme going around celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ("Buffy" or "BTVS"), stating 10 things that made Buffy great. But I thought, frak that, it's more 10 things that made me hopelessly obsessed with the series much to my family and non-internet friends considerable chagrin. If you weren't a Buffy fan, you'll never understand those of us who were. Although my list may or may not be a place to start.

1. Redefined the Genre

Penny: I don't get why Leonard loves this show so much. Sure it's cute but...
Bernadette: You did notice that it's about a girl who kills monsters and kicks ass...
Penny: Oh that's right, the girl does it instead of the guy, whoppee

- The Big Bang Theory


She's also, and this is important, NOT the damsel or the victim.

Unless you are a fan of the gothic/superhero/slasher horror genre, unlike Penny, you won't notice the degree to which Whedon, a horror film critic, slaughtered the old school horror tropes and then redefined the hour-long gothic drama, not to mention the horror genre, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The name in of itself was a sly joke - or a comment on the vampire/gothic/slasher genre in its entirety. Whedon neither satirizes nor parodies, he slyly sends it up while at the same time paying homage to it. Fixing the bits and pieces that he didn't like.

Up until Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the guy was the hero and the cute blonde was the victim, often the first victim. Buffy changed all that. From the very first scene, where we are teased by a creepy bad boy bringing an innocent blonde girl into a high school, at night, in the dark, all alone. In most tv shows in the 1990s and well, now, the guy would have turned into a vampire and sunk his teeth into the girl's neck. But in Buffy, the girl turns out to be the vampire and sinks her teeth into the guy's neck.

Buffy herself is a pint-sized, pretty, former high-school cheerleader, from the valley. In the 1990s and 1980s, being from "The Valley" or a "Valley Girl" meant dumb or shallow. They were a cinematic joke. The title itself is a joke. Buffy is the vampire slayer. For a bit it appeared to be a one-joke show, but no. Whedon expended on the cliche and subverted it.
Acting to redefine a genre. Or at least trying to. To an extent he succeeded. Urban fantasy took off during Buffy's tenure. And the leads were often tough women like Buffy herself.

2. Enter the Dramedy...or a bit of angst cluttered with quips

Prior to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, most hour long series were, well, dramas, shorter series were sitcoms. Rarely did the two meet. Whedon was amongst those who created the hour long dramedy. The series undercut its dramatic moments with sly quips. There's a line of dialogue between Buffy and Angel in S3, where he gives her a book of poetry that states that he loves her so much he is literally holding her heart in his hands. Buffy says while this is incredibly romantic, it is also..taken literally, incredibly gross. Others? Spike's line in Once More With Feeling - "If my heart could beat, it would break my chest". Or Buffy's timeless quip - "If the Apocalypse Comes? Beep Me."

The dialoque was fast and witty. The lines instantly quotable and many snaked their way into our lexicon.

The humor, a self-deprecating and at times very dry wit, undercut the campiness. The show often made fun of itself and the camp. The characters cracking wise or snarking at the silly monsters that came their way. In the process, it also made fun of pop culture.

3. Bending the rules regarding Narrative Form & the introduction of the Meta Narrative

Whedon played with format in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a way few have before or since. Sure people experiment with tropes now and again, and he's certainly not the first to subvert them. But while the network wasn't paying attention, nor apparently a lot of other people, the writers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were experimenting with different ways of telling a story.

* Hush - Whedon decided to see if he could tell a story without much dialogue, purely through silence and make it work within the fabric of the narrative as a whole. Add a bunch of fairy-tale villains and various comments on the unsuitability of words to express meaning...

* Once More With Feeling - Whedon created a musical meta narrative. He didn't just write a musical, because anyone can do that - see Sam Rami's Xenia, Scrubs Musical Episode or countless others. No, Whedon went a step further - he created a musical that commented on itself, the medium, the act of storytelling, and the creation of a musical in of itself.

OMWF was a meta narrative with music and dance numbers. I remember a friend telling me, "oh this is odd, the show is actually making fun of the fact that they are doing a musical." The self-deprecating wit was what endeared Whedon to a lot of his fans. And never was it more evident than in OMWF. The songs themselves are jokes or plays upon words, with lots of sexual puns thrown in.

Examples:
An operatic number regarding the difficulty of removing Mustard from a Shirt

Xander turning to the audience after finishing his impromptu song and dance number with Anya: "move it along, nothing to see"

Tara's last line of "Under Your Spell" as Willow goes down on her...off screen, causing her to elevate..."Make me com........plete."

And of course Xander's last speech about doing a musical, which could be word for word Whedon's own speech to his cast and crew and the audience watching.

* The Body - the only episode that had no sound-track. Depicting death through awkward silences. Empty spaces. Negative space. And deft camera work. The episode haunts long after you see it. It feels stripped of metaphor, but of course it's not...the metaphor being the negative space that fills the space Buffy's mother once occupied.

* Restless - an experiment in surrealism and visual poetry. You either hated it or loved it. At its simplest, it explores the insecurities and fatal flaws of all four principal characters through their dreams, while at the same time providing the audience with a hidden road-map to the rest of the series. If only the audience can decipher it. Through-out, pop culture puns and sly jokes are littered - either directed at overblown cinematic darlings such as Apocalypse Now or French surrealistic cinema.

* Fool for Love - a study in styles.Watching Fool for Love is a bit like reading a comic made for tv. It jumps around. But at the same time it utilizes the unreliable narrator. As we watch Spike spin his tale for Buffy's ears, we also see the character redefine himself and his own image. At the end it's hard to know who he is exactly. Or what he wants. But do any of us know this for certain? The episode plays with identity and the roles people take on.

Each of the above episodes is a film/television scholar's dream. Filled to the brim with meta narrative and commentary on the medium, while at the same time expanding on it.

4. The Music...

Most tv series music I barely notice. Oh they have it. Grey's is so obnoxious about it that I have to turn on close-captioning. But few tv series selected songs that fit so perfectly.

Buffy was also amongst the first to premiere new bands, and albums, which people bought after-wards. Now, it's sort of a given for a lot of music related series or hip teen shows. But back then, not so much.

But the music in Buffy haunted me after the show ended. It encapsulated so perfectly the mood or the characters, often adding that extra layer. It was NOT just annoying background music.

Examples of some of the songs:

1. Wild Horses - the Buffy/Angel Theme Song
2. Transylvania Concubine by Rapunzel - Drusilla's Theme in Surprise
3. Pavlov's Bell by Aimee Mann - Spike's theme song in Sleeper (with the perfect phrase: "Trading Coats and ringing pavlov's bell...history knows that's how I fell")
4. Full of Grace by Sarah MacLachlan - the final song in Becoming Part II - while Buffy is on the bus
5. The Prayer of St. Francis by Sarah MacLachlan - the finale song of Grave, S6
6. Goodbye to You - the finale song in Tabula Rasa when both Tara and Giles have left
7. Virgin State of Mind - Willow's Theme song in Dopplegangland
8. Behind Blue Eyes - Giles song, which he sings in Where the Wild Things Are
9. Blue - the song Joss Whedon wrote for Conversations with Dead People, which begins the episode
10. Key - the Drusilla and Spike theme song in Crush

And many, many more.

There's also the haunting score, such as the Gentleman's theme in HUSH, which sends shivers up the spine, Close Your Eyes - Buffy/Angel theme, or the Final Fight score to Chosen.


5. Characters that you can sink your teeth into...

Whedon created complex characters, who were not always likable. Often did bad things. Yet were also relatable on a certain level. You cared. And characters make a story.  Fans of the series have their favorites - which they will fight to the death for, no less. Some of the characters even subverted classic genre tropes.

For me, it was Spike, he was my favorite. He subverted the tropes. Next in line, was probably Buffy, who equally subverted tropes and rose above the stereotype of her name.

6. Literary references

Besides multiple film and televison references, the show was book smart and an English Lit not to mention Psych and Philosophy major's dream come true. References ranged from Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame to Shakespeare's Henry the V. In one episode there's a reference to Edgar Allan Poe's Cask of Armtadillo. (Which I know I've misspelled).

On the Psych side of the fence we had references to Freud and Jung. And if you were a philosophy buff, better yet into existentialism, you most likely went nuts over the philosophical references and metaphors.

People annotated Buffy, referencing the thousands of references littered within the series. And discussing the meaning of each.

7. Evolution of Story...or referencing past episodes in a new way, giving those episodes a new meaning.

Buffy was amongst the few series that got better as it went along, and made former episodes which you once thought weren't that great seem either good or amazing upon re-viewing. It was, in short, a series that you wanted to re-watch. Because after you saw a later episode, you realized, wait, I missed something in the previous one.

The last three seasons of the series for example comment on the first three. It's almost as if the post-adolescent characters are seeing what happened in the high school years, now through adult eyes. "HIM" in comic form exposes another side of "Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered", with Xander and Spike now in the befuddled Giles role. Or how about the episode where Amy forces Willow to do a body switch, just as her mother once did to Amy in the classic episode Witch? The ironic subtext remains ever present. Upon re-watch, the viewer catches the sly commentary on the characters. And begins to see each in a new way.

8. Improves upon Re-watching - or The Series You Feel Compelled to Re-Watch

Buffy is that rare series where each time you watch it, it's like you've watched a new show, you react to it completely differently. There's a few movies, books, and tv shows that I feel a need to re-watch - because when I do, I pick up something new. Or see something I didn't the first round.

It's odd, the series critics often rave about right out of the box, I don't feel a need to re-watch. There's nothing to be gained in rewatching Breaking Bad or the Wire, I think. It's pretty much all there on the first go-around. But Buffy, you don't always see it. It's hard to explain exactly - it's a bit like looking a Rorschach Drawing: each time you do, you see something new.

9. The Gaps in the Story-Telling...or the bits the Writer's didn't tell us

While mostly frustrating, this technique can to a degree create obsession. The Writer doesn't explain his story. Too often writers do. The show will wrap itself up so neatly, that you won't need any more info. Nor do you need to rewatch. With Buffy, you did.

It wasn't always clear. You could debate Buffy. You could argue about it. You could over-analyze it. The writer left gaps.

10. Broke barriers in TV

* First Full-Blown Lesbian Relationship Shown on Network TV and First Kiss, not to mention sex scene
* Rough/Kinky Sex with no nudity on Network TV (the jaw-dropping moment of Smashed, when Buffy unzips Spike and impales herself on his, well, penis. This is also ground-breaking in that Buffy initiates the sex and Buffy launches herself at him, and Buffy is the one in control...rarely if ever seen, unless the female character is a villain or femme fatale trope, here it was the opposite.)
* Subversion of Gender Roles (see Smashed)
* Made fun of Burger King and advertisers...which ahem, was not permitted afterwards

It also had a lot of fun playing with "jump the shark" tropes and flipping them. Whedon made fun of tv, made fun of established television tropes - such as the magical kid who shows up out of nowhere.


As much as I loved that series, I do not want a reunion special or movie. Nor a reboot. Let it be what it is, please.

Oh, now here's 10 short but sweet reasons I loved it, the non-obsessive addition:

1. Spike
2. Subversion of Gender Tropes
3. Spuffy or the Spike/Buffy relationship
4. Cool songs and soundtrack
5. Once More with Feeling - musical geek
6. Quips and Witty Humor and Dialogue
7. Girl is the hero or Buffy
8. Willow
9. Giles (actually ASH - I watched it for him to start with)
10. Unpredictable and experimental episodes

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tenth Anniversary

Chosen aired on May 20, 2003, 10 years ago. That's hard for me to believe, even harder to believe that we continue to talk about it. Have I mentioned lately that I think it was a great show?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Updates completed

Ok, I finished updating all the posts. The updated posts incorporated a number of comments; clarified some points that I thought might need it; cleaned up the formatting (because I'm better at figuring out blogger at this point); and fixed as many typos as I could find.

Feel free to continue to comment as and when the fancy strikes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Updates

Just a quick note. I've made some updates to the eBook. I read through it again and caught a number of typos (Gah!), but I also made a number of edits for clarity. I asked Amazon to send out email notice of the change so those who've already downloaded it can get the new version, but I thought I should mention it here too.

I'm considering replacing the posts here with the updated versions which are in the book. The benefit of that is that everyone can read the shiny and new essays here. The downside is that I'll lose the original versions because I won't bother to keep them. If anyone feels strongly one way or the other, let me know.

Monday, February 25, 2013

An Announcement and a Request

As I threatened a few weeks ago in comments, I decided to collect all my posts as an eBook. It’s available here. The eBook differs from the posts in a few ways: I made some minor corrections; I added a few thoughts on further reflection; and, most importantly, I inserted a number of comments into the posts. Still, it’s probably 95% identical to the original. Edit to add: Amazon estimates the book has 800 pages. That's ridiculous, though I guess it depends on things like type size, etc. In Word it had about 460, and that included forced pages in order to make each episode essay begin on a new page. The actual reading length is probably about 380 pages. So don't take the Amazon estimate at face value.

My request of you is not that you buy the book. That would be tacky. Besides, I’m leaving the blog up so you can continue to read it for free. No, my request is that you rate it or even write a review of it. Technically you haven’t read it, of course, but since the posts here are so nearly identical, anybody who’s read these could fairly comment on the eBook.
Thanks in advance, and thanks to all of you who read and provided such thoughtful comments. If comments occur to you on any episode now or in the future, go ahead and leave them. I get notice of them and will respond.

Chosen

[Updated May 3, 2013]

DRUSILLA
… You like our little songs, don't you? You've always liked them, right from the beginning. And that's where we're going...
THE MASTER
...right back to the beginning. Not the Bang... not the Word... the true beginning. (Lessons)
Joss: “And the real beginning was girl power. The real beginning is what does it mean to be a Slayer?”

There’s much to say about Chosen and about S7 as a whole, such that this, like most of the finale posts, will be a long one. As I did with The Gift, I’ll start with the conclusion. It’s always easiest to reverse engineer the season once you know where it’s going. Then, because S7 often gets criticized, I’ll outline how the season themes played out and the paths of the core characters.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

End of Days

[Updated May 3, 2013

Having reached End of Days, it’s only fitting that we finally discover the (symbol of the) Ultimate Boon. In my post on Grave I said that S7 would cover the stage of the Hero’s Journey known as the Ultimate Boon. Wikipedia describes the Ultimate Boon this way:
“The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.” My emphasis.

Here in End of Days Spike tells us that Buffy’s found it (my emphasis again): “And you did it. Fulfilled your mission. Found the Holy Grail.” The quest for the Holy Grail is, symbolically, a quest for the deeper meaning of life. At different times that might mean Christian salvation or, more generally, spiritual progress. We might see it in more secular terms as seeking wisdom or the meaning of life. Success on the quest involves asking the right questions. Buffy’s conversations with Spike and Faith are leading her in the right direction, but she has one more step to take.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Touched

[Updated May 3, 2013]

Continuing the point from Empty Places, the chaos of the teaser in Touched drives home the logical necessity that someone has to be in charge. The group was incapable of even having a discussion, and both Xander and Kennedy suggested that not everyone should participate (without, of course, including themselves out, to quote Samuel Goldwyn):
XANDER
You know, I'm thinking that everyone here shouldn't have a say.
KENNEDY
I just wonder if those of us who have been here longer should have more of a say.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Empty Places

[Updated May 3, 2013]

Et tu Brute?
Empty Places made viewers angry when it aired and I think still does today. It’s comparable to Dead Man’s Party in its plot, and that generated a similar reaction. I don’t like DMP (second bottom on my list), but EP works for me. What’s the difference? Mainly the fact that the abuse of Buffy was SO one-sided in DMP. It wasn’t just that Xander and Joyce, and Willow to a lesser extent, were self-righteous, the episode and its successors implied that they were entirely right. In EP the situation is much more nuanced. We see the conflicted feelings of the SG, we see Buffy’s side, we know that there’s something to be said on all sides. While my heart’s with Buffy, just as it was in DMP, here I can see the point of her critics.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dirty Girls

[Updated May 3, 2013]

Dirty Girls re-enacts a standard horror scenario in order to take us back to the original concept of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It seems like a long time ago, but in both my Introduction and in my post on Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest, I quoted Joss on the reason why he created the show. I’ll quote it again here because I think Dirty Girls brings us back to the beginning in a crucial way:
Where did the idea [for BtVS] come from? There’s actually an incredibly specific answer to that question. It came from watching a horror movie and seeing the typical ditzy blonde walk into a dark alley and getting killed. I just thought that I would love to see a scene where the ditzy blonde walks into a dark alley, a monster attacks her and she kicks its ass.”

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lies My Parents Told Me

[Updated May 3, 2013]

"For when was revenge in its exactions ought but an inordinate usurer?" Herman Melville.
Immediately after the episode which taught us that the narrative has trapped Buffy, we learn that some part of that narrative consists of lies. The brilliantly constructed Lies My Parents Told Me is the fourth/fifth great episode of S7. Why is it so great? Partly it’s the flashback scenes, building on what we saw in Fool For Love, to which there are many references. Partly it’s the major clue about the source of Buffy’s various related problems. But mostly because it poses, in the sharpest possible way, the moral dilemmas Buffy faces this season: justice v. vengeance; redemption; consequentialist v. deontological ethics.
By no means does LMPTM provide definitive solutions to the difficulties it exposes. What it does is pose them in a way which furthers our understanding of several major characters in circumstances where arguments can be made for or against any of them. “Genuine tragedies in the world are not conflicts between right and wrong. They are conflicts between two rights.” (G.W.F. Hegel) Because it was so carefully constructed, there were probably more internet arguments about this episode than any other besides Seeing Red or maybe the upcoming Empty Places.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Storyteller

[Updated May 3, 2013]

Jane Espenson gives us the third (for me, the fourth) great episode of S7 with her masterpiece Storyteller. It’s one of my very favorite episodes, mostly based on the way Buffy closes the Turok-han pez dispenser (h/t Rob).
The most important thing I can say about Storyteller is that it’s shot almost entirely in Andrew’s POV. In that sense it’s similar to earlier episodes like The Zeppo (Xander’s POV), Doppelgangland (Willow’s), and A New Man (Giles’s). Andrew may think he’s telling Buffy’s story, but in fact he’s telling his own.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Get it Done

[Updated May 3, 2013]

Buffy formally and dramatically took on the role of General in BotN, but she has always seen herself more as a protector than as a commander, even if she does assert authority in some cases (most recently Selfless). We saw her protector role in Showtime. Here in Get it Done, she’s much more playing the role of General; she’s having Kennedy train her “soldiers” in the back yard; she’s recruiting Wood; she’s demanding that Willow and Spike go back to being warriors.

Monday, January 28, 2013

First Date

[Updated May 3, 2013]

This being a Valentine’s Day episode (it aired on February 11), we can be sure that Buffy’s having a true First Date. What we can’t be quite so sure of is the identity of her date. It looks on the surface as if it’s Robin Wood, but I’d argue it was Spike. Since Xander is Buffy’s metaphorical heart, the fact that Xander is attracted to demons (Teacher’s Pet, Inca Mummy Girl, Anya, Something Blue, First Date) is letting us know by allegory that Buffy is attracted to Spike, not Wood. Similarly, Xander’s on-off behavior with Anya mirrors that of Buffy with Spike, particularly with Anya and Spike now comparable as “recovering” former demons.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Killer in Me

[Updated May 3, 2013]

The Killer In Me is, I think, a very good episode which could have been a great one and just misses. The basic concept is excellent and IMO Alyson Hannigan and Adam Busch both do great jobs. Part of my disappointment is that some of the Spike scenes are played almost as slapstick. Part of it is my annoyance at the lame joke about touching Giles, which bothered me a lot the first time around but which I ignore on re-watch. I, uh, won’t touch the Giles story and instead will focus on the important ones, Spike and Willow.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Potential

[Updated May 3, 2013]

Potential is a very important episode, though not really a favorite of mine. I suggested in my post on BotN that you should be asking yourself the question, what is a Potential, metaphorically? Andrew, of all people, tells us the answer here: “It's like—well, it's almost like this metaphor for womanhood, isn't it? The sort of flowering that happens when a girl realizes that she's part of a fertile heritage stretching back to Eve…”

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Showtime

[Updated May 3, 2013]

Showtime is episode 11. In seasons 3 and 5, episode 11 showed us the basic problem Buffy will face in the finale, but with a wrong or incomplete solution (seasons 2 and 6 did that in episode 14). That’s what Showtime does. I won’t give any details because of spoilers, but I can say that the wrong solution here is directly related to every single one of the themes we’ve seen in S7.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bring on the Night

[Updated May 3, 2013]

As should be obvious by now, the writers depended on the viewers having an obsessive memory for the details of previous episodes. By S7 there are numerous references to earlier seasons in each episode, and the whole plot line of S7 depends on everyone remembering the events of Amends. Bring on the Night contains a number of scenes which follow from Amends, and if you haven’t re-watched Amends in some time it’s probably helpful to do that now.
In Amends the First tried to get Angel kill himself (among other things). Here we see it work on both Willow and Spike, in addition to using the Ubervamp against Buffy. I’ll talk first about Willow and Spike, because what happens with them reminds us of what happened to Angel and thus what the First is. With that in mind, I’ll turn to the main plot of Buffy and the Potentials.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Never Leave Me

[Updated May 3, 2013]

Never Leave Me – the title quotes the words of Spike’s trigger song, “Early One Morning” – reveals the identity of the Big Bad while tying together more tightly the threads of the Spike and Andrew story lines with each other and with the seasonal arc.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sleeper

[Updated May 3, 2013]

Sleeper connects Spike’s “addiction recovery” story and the Big Bad (still unidentified). I now need to explain how Spike’s story since S4 intersects with the themes of S7.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Conversations With Dead People

[Updated May 3, 2013]

Conversations With Dead People, the second great episode of S7 – third if you include Beneath You – marks the true beginning (heh) of the season storyline, as Buffy tell us in the opening words: “Here we go.” The season’s Big Bad isn’t officially identified yet, though viewers with a good memory could be pretty sure by now. I’ll hold off until we get confirmation in Never Leave Me.