Post by Dalton on Feb 23, 2004 23:51:43 GMT -5
by Jen Sonstein
Weddings are, by nature, pressure-cookers. From the rehearsal dinner to the rice, wedding participants and guests are just waiting for their jaws to drop.
The drunken dad. The klutzy bridesmaid. The screaming flower girl. The delinquent caterer/ florist/ photographer/ priest/ rabbi/ harpist. There’s a reason that most of the editorial content in bridal magazines is concerned with ways for a bride to de-stress during the wedding planning process and on her “special day.”
Less often than television writers would have you think, the jaw-dropping act involves a bride or groom on the run in a fit of panic. Chandler Bing (Friends) freaked out when he heard Monica’s answering machine announce them as the “The Bings”. Xander Harris pulled a Chandler when he imagined a bleak future that too closely resembled his parents in both past and present. The two characters, Chandler and Xander (whose names almost rhyme), have always struck me as very similar; insecure young men who use comedy as a way to diffuse their very obvious fear and lack of self-assuredness. This doesn’t mean I don’t absolutely adore both of them. On the contrary, this is exactly what I love about the two.
Their parallel stories diverge though. Thirty-something Chandler found his way back to Monica and realized he was ready to make a commitment to a life together with her. Twenty-something Xander found his way back to the Sunnydale Bison Lodge, but realized that he wasn’t ready to commit to a future with Anya.
Though his timing royally sucked, Xander’s choice was a wise one.
Xander and Anya are not marriage-appropriate. Not yet, at least. This is not because they didn’t love each other. Indeed, Anya and Xander’s affection for each other has always seemed very real and very genuine. But, unlike the Beatles would have you believe, love isn’t all you need.
Like everyone else on the show this season, Anya and Xander have been playing grown-up. Anya may be technically thousands of years old, but she’s very young in human years, as is Xander. They have yet to fully develop as people, let alone as a couple.
Only as recent as her wedding day did Anya finally realize the vow she was making to Xander.“I get it now,” she says to Tara as she practices her vows, “I finally get love.”
That’s all fine and dandy, but it’s not a lesson you save to learn minutes before walking down the aisle. Anya’s not totally to blame; she’s like a child. Although Xander’s has done a good job of showing her how fantastic love can taste and feel, like a child, Anya has a lot of lessons still to learn before she’s “all growed up” enough to be someone’s wife.
Xander, on the other hand, needs to address his very understandable fear of marriage. A product of a wretched union, Xander has probably never been witness to a successful one. How could he possible feel confident enough to manage his own?
As heartbreaking as it must have been for him to finally confront this fear and to hurt the person he loves most in the process, Xander’s decision to call off the wedding was very brave and mature. It would have been a lot cleaner if he had made this realization any time prior to the ceremony, but he deserves an immense amount of credit for telling Anya he was not ready to proceed. A coward man would have said his vows and done his dirty work later. It is this action–and not his marriage proposal in the basement of the magic shop when they all thought they were about to die – that shows how grown up Xander has become.
Now, the question is how grown up has Anya become? Is she still “as vindictive as ever?”
Anya’s eyes, in response to D’Hoffryn’s comment at episode’s end, flashed like a neon sign – “cliffhanger.” Even if Anya is capable of undomesticating herself, will she want to? If she can so easily revert back to nonhuman status, if she can so quickly force herself to hate Xander, it will only prove how unprepared she was for the responsibilities of marriage. Marriage is not a piece of wedding cake. It’s an extremely challenging job, marked by as many moments of anger and frustration, as love and affection. I’m not sure Anya grasps this concept.
“They were supposed to be the light at the end of my tunnel. I guess they were a train.”
“Hell’s Bells” is a turning point for season six. How will Xander’s decision affect the Gang? The Scooby girls are obviously as torn as I am. As women, we are supposed to loathe this man for scorning our kind. But “this man” happens to be Xander Harris, the guy that wouldn’t hurt a fly unless he was the undead kind, at which point he’d try his best to hurt it without really succeeding. Poor Xander. Poor Anya. Sigh.
With still a chunk of BtVS left in the season, Xander and Anya’s break up is bound to affect the plot line. (Although, I thought the same thing when Willow starting hanging out with Amy and Rack, but where have they been since the holidays?) Where this train is heading, however, remains to be seen.
I have just one request to anyone out there listening—wherever the train is headed, can Clem be the conductor?
Couldn’t find a place to fit this within the context of the article, but wanted to point out a few extras:
1. The acting tonight rocked. A true showcase of talent, especially on the part of SMG who I feel an affinity with after watching her juggle.
2. The wedding party (including Anya) looked as if they were heading to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. My role here is not as a fashion critic, but discussion will no doubt be sparked by the appendages to all the dresses. So I might as well be the one to spark it.
3. The Harrises vs. the circus folk: Discuss. Who would you rather have on your side of the aisle?
Post by Dalton on Feb 23, 2004 23:55:51 GMT -5
by Jen Sonstein
What happens if a tree falls in the woods, but no one is around to hear it?
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Is my life just but a dream?
These are a sampling of the concepts that first drew me into the world of science fiction. My personal obsession with such complicated, mind-boggling philosophical questions began with young adult books about time travel, television specials examining psychic phenomenon and, more than anything, old black and white episodes of The Twilight Zone.
In the pilot episode of the series, "Where is Everybody?" (circa 1959), a man who believes he’s all by himself in an empty town eventually goes berzerko. It turns out he’s actually hallucinating—he’s really just part of an experiment to examine the effects of isolation in outer space. In "Five Characters in Search of an Exit," a TZ episode Felicity borrowed, a bunch of characters are trapped in a room with a ceiling too high to climb. It turns out...they’re all dolls in a barrel.
My favorite episodes were those, like the ones mentioned above, that forced you to examine your own existence; and to question what is real and what is an illusion.
"Normal Again" is an offspring of the kind of Twilight Zone episode that kept me awake late at night pondering the meaning of life. The theme, offered in a grand philosophical question posed by Buffy to Dawn is "What’s more real? A sick girl in an institution or some kind of super girl chosen to fight demons and save the world?
"It would be easy to classify "Normal Again" as a stand-alone ep that does little to advance the plot. After all, we’re still not sure where or what Anya is or what the Nerd Herd has in store for the Scoobies or whether or not Tara’s ready to forgive Willow. Brushing episode 17 (only five more to go, folks!) off as filler, however, would be a huge oversight.
What if, in fact, "Normal Again" is really the denouement?
Since the beginning of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (both show and girl), Buffy Summers has always complained about the lack of normalcy in her life. So many times she’s wished for a normal school, a normal boyfriend, a normal young adulthood. Such is the life of a super-hero.
When she finally reached the end of her abnormal rope (end of Season 5), Buffy made a decision to end her life, partly to save the world, but mostly to save herself. She succeeded, according to her psychiatrist, in experiencing a "momentary awakening;" a moment of normalcy. Whether she died or simply jumped into an alternate dimension in which she was a mental patient, Buffy managed to escape the life she had come to dread.
Does it matter which Buffy Summers is real and which is the hallucination? Cases can be made for both scenarios. Indeed, if we were psychology students examining Buffy’s case, which reality would we be more likely to believe? The one in which she’s a farm girl flirting with the help or the one in which she’s running away from flying monkeys with ruby slippers stuck to her feet? (Sorry, wrong file.)
Reality is yet another gray area in Buffyverse, especially when you take hell dimensions, monks, and doppelgangers into account.
While "Oh, Grow Up" has been touted as this year’s theme, the crux of season six has had to do with choices...with decisions...with "Where Do We Go From Here?" Willow’s decision to give up magic in "Wrecked." Xander’s recent decision to give up Anya. Buffy’s decision on whether or not life is important, what about life is important, and what kind of life she wants to live.
She makes that last decision in "Normal Again."
Buffy is presented with two lives: 1. The one we’re all familiar with in which humans walk out on marriages to ex-vengeance demons and vampires play cards for kittens; or 2. the one in which a blonde spent too many hours in the sun, so much that she’s baked her brain into believing blood-sucking fiends are roaming the streets of Los Angeles and she’s been chosen to put an end to their evil ways.
In the first, Buffy’s stuck with her so-called abnormal life, but she’s rich in friends and respect. In the second, she’s blessed with a so-called normal mom and pop (still married to each other), but she’s in a world where she’s been locked away in a mental institution for six years...and no one believes her.
It’s a tough choice. And Buffy’s presented with a lot to consider.
"I hope you don’t think that drink is going to help you escape the martyrdom," Spike says to her. "You’re too twisted."
He’s so exactly right! Buffy has always considered herself a martyr, especially this season since her return from "Heaven."
Were his comments the reason she originally chooses to "live" in the reality with Hank and Joyce? To escape Spike, someone who represents her dark side, the side she’s disgusted by? To escape her self-inflicted suffering? Before Spike came into her bedroom, Buffy was still wavering. She still wasn’t able to give up the "intricate latticework" of friends and family. Was Spike’s appearance proof to her that her life in Sunnydale must be a farce? (A girl who sleeps with a vampire she hates?!) After all, it’s only then that she trashes the antidote, effectively making her decision.
"I don’t want to go back there," she tells the doctor and her parents. "I want to be healthy again."
And there you have it: the climactic question. "I want to be healthy again. What do I have to do?"
Joyce helps Buffy with the answer.
"Believe in yourself."
Both worlds contain elements drawing Buffy back into them. It’s not a matter of what’s real and what’s not real. It’s a matter of deciding which crazy is easier to bear; sticking with that crazy; and making the best of it.
She’s chosen. But will it stick?
Post by Dalton on Feb 23, 2004 23:59:36 GMT -5
by Jen Sonstein
If wishes were nickels, Anya would be surrounded by the money she so loves.
It’s common, when you’re in a jam or a rough spot or in a black hole of pain and misery, to wish yourself out of it. Unfortunately, for those of us who remain powerless even after purchasing a book of spells at Urban Outfitters, wishing doesn’t cut it. Anya, after giving it the old college try, eventually realizes that her need to feel better is not as easy as wishing herself out of her own misery. In fact, when she finally succeeds in hurting Xander, it’s clear to her that his pain only makes hers worse.
The Scoobies and their extensions are on the road to recovery. Anya and Spike are trying to paste together the shattered pieces of their not-quite-exactly-human hearts. Xander and Buffy are still sorting out the whys and hows of their feelings of the afore-mentioned coupling. Willow and Tara, we learn by episode’s end, have reached a juncture where the pain has subsided and the healing can begin. Dawnie is on her own Recovery Road – trying to find a way to pay for the trouble she’s caused to the Magic Box and the malls of Sunnydale.
It’s funny, and somewhat telling, that even in show about magic, the answer to heartbreak is still in booze and thoughtless sex. That, when in search of pain relief, the easiest remedy is hurting the one who hurt you.
Even Spike, lacking that bit of human emotion and experience Anya actually possesses, does not share this realization. Like a broken record of lies, we hear Spike claim to love Buffy. That he won’t hurt her. Yet, he continues to find ways to do just that.
I’m constantly torn about Spike. He’s quite the charmer. I want to like him. But just when I’m about to fall for his warped brand of saccharine puppy love, I’m reminded of what a dog he really is. Trying to blackmail Buffy with threats of divulging their secret. And then finally letting the cat out of the bag in the most inappropriate of situations! He had every right to join Anya in a pity party, and who can blame either of them for looking to the other for comfort, but Spike proved once again to be selfish and immature. Numbing the pain wasn’t enough for him. Spike wants Buffy to hurt like he hurts.
Fortunately, Buffy is presently in a pretty good place to be handling the situation. Freed from the looney bin, and riding high on feelings of self-confidence thanks to support from friends and family, Buffy takes Spike’s taunting with a grain of salt. She makes it clear to Spike from the beginning of the episode that she’s not interested in making deals with him regarding their past or present. However, in confronting him, she’s also kind and compassionate.
Even when Spike deserves less.She gets the High Road Award for the evening. Buffy, who hasn’t been the picture of maturity in the past (despite having to grow up faster than the average teen), showed her grownup side in a good way this ep. Too bad she didn’t take the time for a sit down with Xander, who is in desperate need of grownup advice.
Xander, for all the time he’s spent with women, for all of his girlish sensitivity, he’s missing something when it comes to "getting it." Lack of a positive role model in a father could have something to do with it. Whatever his reasons for screwing up, it’s still apparent he’s tremendously sorry and completely ashamed of the way he abandoned Anya. He’s obviously been beating himself up over it. It even seems he’s made some progress in the maturing department, as he begins explaining his situation to Anya. Yet, in typical Xander fashion, he flubs his lines. Xander’s not a bad guy; he’s still just too young and immature. For the same reasons he couldn’t marry Anya weeks ago, he doesn’t quite get how to explain to her why.
Anya, however, is as sharp and as biting and as Go Girl, as ever. "Congratulations, Xander on being honest now. I wonder what the medal will say," she says to him in response to his practiced speech. Her words, at least those bearing little resemblance to attempts at vengeance spells, were right on. Especially in her response to Xander’s accusations in the final scene, when Anya calls him on all his flaws. "The mature solution is for you to spend your whole life telling stupid, pointless jokes so no one will notice you’re just a scared, insecure little boy."
Featuring the two romantic situations in such close comparison, Xander and Anya’s versus Buffy and Spike’s, it’s plain to see that one is born of love and the other contempt. To then compare those two gruesome twosomes with Willow and Tara’s interaction is even more revealing.
Willow and Tara, who seem to be on the mend, have the most adult relationship of the bunch. Rather than falling into a cyclical trap of pain, Willow and Tara have done all they can to achieve a healthy recovery. Tara walked away from Willow, despite her feelings of love, when she knew it was the best thing for the relationship. And, after a bumpy start, Willow has been doing what she can to be the type of person Tara wants to return to. Their work on their relationship, from both the inside and out, worked.
Their’s is a lesson to be learned. "Time is the glue that bonds a broken heart," someone once said, "but love is the air which dries the glue."
Love is not prevalent in the air right now. Pain is. The parties need to take a step back from romance, from sex, from all things carnal knowledge and focus on the big bad showdown that’s about to rear it’s ugly head.
The plot line moved. Thanks. We’re back in the game. Thanks. Now give us some action.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
By the way, the only definition for entropy in three dictionaries that made any sense to me was "inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society." Discuss.
Post by Dalton on Feb 24, 2004 0:03:52 GMT -5
by Jen Sonstein
Man or Monster?
It’s a recurring question on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a television universe populated not only by humans, but by super humans, reincarnated humans, witches, demons, half-demons, vampires without souls, vampires with souls, vampires with chips, and keys that open more than just doors. Sunnydale is a complicated place and its residents walk a blurry line between good and evil.
What makes a man (or woman for that matter) a monster? How do you judge? Should you judge?
Buffy, as the Slayer, though, is entrusted with a responsibility to be the judge. As a child, she had a mentor to help her make the close calls. She was more a weapon than a decision maker. Giles, as her Watcher and a representative of a larger "watching" body really decided who or what was evil.
Now a grown up – no longer a pawn of the Watcher’s Council and without Giles to referee – Buffy’s been left to figure out for herself which battles to fight and who are her enemies. Furthermore, with Willow and Xander caught up in their own affairs (particularly those of the heart), Buffy hasn’t been able to bounce ideas off her usual support group. She’s really been flying solo.
Has she been doing a good job on her own? Has she been calling the plays correctly?
Take Warren. Please.
Warren is evil. He’s not just bad. He’s icky. The way he walks. The way he talks. The way he treats women. He’s just sick. "Baby." "Kitten." Yuck!
Kudos to Adam Busch, the actor who portrays the slime ball. Busch does a wonderful job at giving me the heebee jeebees whenever Warren is on screen. However, as much as Warren might make your skin crawl, is he a monster? Or just a sorry excuse for a wannabe man, a victim of too much high school persecution?
By the U.S. judicial system, Warren might be considered a human being…of flesh and blood and all. But consider his actions. He is a murderer. He is a would-be bank robber. What fate does he deserve? How should he be judged? What is the difference between this "man" and a blood-sucking vampire? Does Warren deserve to live any more than a night crawler who just emerged from a fresh grave?
Follow the thin gray line over to Spike’s crypt.
Here we find the subject of massive Internet debate. Is Spike a man or a monster?
Tonight, he asks himself that same question and even he’s unable to answer.
Technically, Spike is a monster. A member of the undead. A type of entity that Buffy, being The Vampire Slayer and all, is destined to slay. Yet, Spike remains alive and, lucky fellow, is a card-carrying member of the "I Boinked Buffy" Club.
Is Spike evil? He’s done many good deeds since the implantation of his chip. He’s helped the Scoobies on many occasions and it’s clear he is vulnerable to human feelings and emotions. However, he’s also been emotionally and physically abusive to Buffy. In "Seeing Red," this aspect of Spike’s personality must have finally been apparent even to those most devoted "But Spike is good!" fans. Spike turned disgustingly violent against his so-called "love" in her own home. Save for her superhuman strength, Spike would have raped Buffy.
Now, I ask you. Is this the work of a man? Or a monster?
Sunnydale’s blacks and whites blend even further when we consider the nature of Willow.
Gentle Willow. Smart Willow. Good Willow. Witchy Willow.
What about evil Willow?
The good witch has turned wicked once already this year and, from the looks of things, is heading straight off the wagon to avenge Tara’s murder. Willow’s friends forgave her for deceiving them last fall and for putting their lives in danger. Tara even forgave Willow for lying to her and welcomed her back into loving arms. Willow’s actions, as a magic addict, could be excused as a mistake. But scenes from next week’s episode show Willow causing more than just a little bit of havoc. Willow has gone dark again. Darker than ever before.
Is it possible for Willow to cross the line between human and monster? Or are Willow’s actions justifiable because she’s avenging her love? If Willow becomes the Big Bad of Season Six, and even bleeds over into Season Seven, what’s the Scooby Gang to do?
What is a monster?
Clem is ugly and eats cat. But seems to be a real sweet guy in all other respects. Is he a monster? Anya was a vengeance demon who spent thousands of years torturing men for hurting women. She wreaks havoc in Sunnydale when Cordelia becomes her client. Yet, as a human and a Scooby, she acted very valiantly. Is she a monster? What about Amy or Rack or Dawn or Halli?
While red may be the color of the moment on BtVS, gray is the prevailing hue.
Sunnydale is a complicated realm made up not only of good and evil, but also "somewhere in between." This is what makes Buffy’s choices so difficult, and her job unenviable.
It also makes for juicy discussion.
So, tell me, is a monster simply a being that hides under the beds of bad little boys and girls? Who walks the dark streets looking for blood to suck or a body to maim? Or is a monster someone who hurts innocent people?
Who makes bad choices? Who acts selfishly to the point of breaking the law? Are all monsters evil? Do all monsters deserve the same fate?
You be the judge.
Post by Dalton on Feb 24, 2004 0:08:04 GMT -5
by Jen Sonstein
"I’m not coming back."
With those four chilling words, Willow responds to her two best friends’ request that she not continue down the dark path she’s headed.
And that line, delivered pitch-perfect by Alyson Hannigan, sets the disturbing tone for not only next week’s thrilling finale, but perhaps next year’s season seven, as well. But let’s take a moment to see what made her reach that point of no return.
Willow’s heart has been shattered into oblivion. As we’ve been witness to in the past, Willow does not handle lost love well. Oz’s departure made her feel sad. But Tara’s death made her mad.
Mad angry. And mad crazy.
Tara and Willow’s reunion was too good too be true and Tara’s death seemed almost formulaic. In television drama, the blissful couple always enjoys a few final moments of happy-happy right before one of them bites the big one. Tara bit the bullet, a tiny metal catalyst that would send Willow off the deep end and into a sea of wrath.
"That girl’s running on pure fury. I’ve never seen anything like it."
Tonight, the curtain was almost comically lifted and the Big Bad was revealed. Was there a time we even considered the "trio" worthy of this title? Both Warren’s visit to the demon bar and his appointment with Rack showed how insignificant he and his band of merry freaks truly are in Sunnydale. No one has heard of "the trio" and no one really cares. "We were evil," Warren tries to tell Rack. It turns out they were just wannabe evil. For a second, you almost feel bad for Warren (and Andrew and Jonny-boy in jail), for once again they’re relegated to the wannabe category.
Warren’s time is up. The real Big Bad is on the loose and he’s #1 on her shit list. And this ain’t no regular Willow, either. It’s the Super-Ultra, Black-Eyed, Black-Haired Bad Willow.
I love Bad Willow. She’s a lot more fun to watch. But when she was bad, she was BIG BAD.
Cowering, nerdy Willow got on my nerves. Her stuttering baby talk. Her constant catering to Buffy’s whims and wishes. And her satisfaction as a passenger, always along for the ride, but regulated to the back seat. Not anymore. Willow has grown as much, if not more, than her Scooby Gang counterparts over the last year or two.
Willow’s up front with her pedal to the metal. "She’s gonna blow this town apart," Rack predicts.
With the goth look on the hair and face and "bored now" on the lips, Willow seems possessed by her doppelgängland self. This bizarre version of Willow has always been more id than ego and tonight’s pleasure lies in torturing and killing Warren. She sucks the dark arts right out of the books and prepares to use (and abuse) them to avenge the death of her love. And as much as Buffy tries to explain to Willow the lack of morality in her actions, Willow’s not listening. Willow doesn’t want to listen.
Why should she?
Buffy, as the Slayer, is constantly put in the position to make judgment calls on good and evil. She has practice and she’s been in the position to kill bad humans before. "Being the Slayer doesn’t give me the license to kill," she tells Xander. But does it give her the right to sit up on a high horse and play Giles when her friend is in such pain? Does Buffy have a responsibility in this case? She may be playing Dawn’s mom (and doing her best to fix her hair up like Joyce’s), but she’s not Scooby Mom.
As loud as Buffy may preach from the pulpit of morality, Willow is the mistress of her own destiny. Part of growing up (theme alert!) is making choices on your own. Willow tells Buffy and Xander, "Sometimes you don’t have a choice."
You always have a choice. But you also must live with the consequences of your decisions. Now that Willow has decided to let the magic (and her id) take over, what will the consequences be?
Spoiler-free as always, I can only look to the trailer for next week for clues. And the clues tell me we’re about the witness a showdown.
What will happen when Buffy faces Willow? Or when Willow faces Buffy?
If Buffy is forced to make yet another judgment call, but this time based on the actions of her best friend, what will she do? If we examine Buffy’s reactions in previous situations, specifically in regards to Angel/Angelus, we can see that Buffy doesn’t do well when it comes to conflict of interest. It takes a lot before Buffy is willing to give up on someone she loves.
Will Buffy try to save Willow from herself or save herself from Willow?
How strong is Willow’s power? Will it... has it... surpassed the Slayer’s?
The Slayer is the hero of BtVS, but history shows it doesn’t mean she can’t be taken down a notch – or two or three. While my prediction is that Buffy will survive this catfight, I can’t make the same prediction in regards to her relationship with her best friend or good ol’ Sunny D.
For as much as everything has changed this year, the biggest change is still to come. And I’ll be coming back next Tuesday to witness that one first hand.
Post by Dalton on Feb 24, 2004 0:14:35 GMT -5
by Jen Sonstein
You know it’s the grand finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when the world’s about to end and Sarah McLachlan is crooning the soundtrack.
As loyal fans have learned to expect by now, however, it takes a lot more than a temporarily insane witch to wipe Sunnydale off the map.
Joss has also trained us to expect the unexpected. And the two-hour season finale offered a handful of unexpected for the spoiler-free.
Juiced up Giles dropping by.
Buffy acknowledging Dawn’s needs.
Xander saving the world.
And, of course, Spike.
All entertaining twists, granted, but did tonight’s story really require a two-hour tale?
The program started off with a bang (despite Spike’s absence): Darth Rosenberg, even more fired up after torching Warren, flies straight for the dork duo, who despite the urge to poop their pants, still manage to offer dynamic dialogue. ("Laugh it up fuzzball," one of my favorite movie lines of all time, definitely topped the list.) The Sunnydale police show off their ineptitude, while Xander wallows in his own feelings of Zeppo-ness. Buffy’s still preaching to a deaf choir about morality and "crossing lines," and there’s no knowing what will happen next.
"Two to Go" picks up right where "Villains" left off--- Willow’s on a rampage with the rest of the Gang following closely behind, trying to talk her down from her magically-fortified pedestal. But, as I said last week, bad Willow is fun Willow. Bad Willow lets her mouth shoot off. And the venom that escapes is sugar-free.
Bad Willow tells Dawn she’s sick of her whining and crying all the time.
Bad Willow tells Buffy she’s a buzzkill and needs "every square inch of her ass kicked."
Bad Willow speaks her mind. And she’s pretty damn funny! Mostly because a lot of what she says echoes the feelings of her audience on the other side of the screen. It’s as if the writers were speaking to us, tongue in cheek, through scary Willow.
"Two to Go" is an amusing, and mildly wild ride, with a magnificent surprise in store at the end---Giles.
Just as we’ve reached our emotional climax, watching Buffy and Willow face off in a power struggle, our long-lost grown up steps in to break up the fight. Giles’ appearance at the door of The Magic Box took my breath away.
"I’d like to test that theory," he tells power-tripping Willow, all Superman-like sans the librarian glasses. His interaction with the Coven of Devon must have given him more than just borrowed powers. Giles also picked up some confident chic across the sea. His re-entry into Scooby life, if only temporary, was a welcome one. And his laughter, when Buffy explains to him all that has transpired since he left, lifted the fog of despair, at least for a moment.
While "Two to Go" was a respectable continuation of Willow’s storm of anger and destruction, "Grave" drags on what could have been a fairly quick resolution. A great build-up leading to a half-assed finish. What transpires over the next hour---Willow’s struggle to release herself from enchanted bondage, her manipulation of Anya’s mind and torture of Giles, Buffy’s race against the fireball, Jonathan and Andrew’s escape to the border, and the Summers sisters’ battle against the graveyard demons---seems a bit superfluous and heavy-handed. Not to mention a bit choppy.
Once again, we’re forced to listen to Dawn whine that she feels left out, uninformed, and that Buffy’s too over-protective. Duh! We again hear Buffy’s rehearsed speech in which she explains to Dawn the need to protect her. However, this time, Buffy reaches an epiphany. Apparently, the graveyard demons amount to too many to battle on her own, and the Slayer looks to her preteen sister for help--something hard to swallow considering the sticky situation in which the Slayer’s found herself in the past.
It seems a bit forced that suddenly, after witnessing Dawn’s admirable efforts with the sword, Buffy sees the light. She now realizes she wants to "show Dawn the world" instead of protecting her from it?? (Hold my hair while I puke, please.) Buffy, with Dawn in hand, climbs out of a grave once again, only this time it’s into the bright new day…raring to start over…fresh. The scene was more tampon commercial then BtVS.
If Buffy and Dawn were hawking tampons, then Xander was a walking Hallmark greeting. His speech to Broken Yellow Crayon Girl almost caused me to gag on sentimentality. If it wasn’t for my sense of pride in Xander, who finally got the chance to show off his worth to the Gang, I would have written the ending off as a bunch of sap.
But Xander made me proud.
He found a way to see past his self-pity and self-loathing to self-discovery. Xander discovered his power—it’s not strength and it’s not magic, it’s humanity.
The only reason I walked away from "Grave" with a sweet taste in my mouth is because of Spike. Though his appearances in the final two episodes were short, they were necessary to lead us straight to the edge of the cliff. Spike’s soul is restored. What a great cliffhanger and fodder for discussion. Is he a vampire with a restored soul or is he human? Is a soul really what Spike was asking for when he told the shaman to "make me like I was" or was his reward an evil twist of fate?
The two-hour season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season six was a mixed bag.
Sarah McLachlan sings as the 2nd half ends, "where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy." For the first time in many seasons, both the Gang and the audience on the other side of the screen are left with a feeling of hope, rather than despair. The tears that may have fell from the eyes of those affected by Buffy’s and Xander’s respective speeches were most likely tears of joy.
After watching the premiere of season six, "Bargaining," we discussed the feeling of catharsis that BtVS tends to offer. This is more often than not found in the very dramatic episodes, and in the season finales. Despite its faults, "Grave" provided that emotional relief.
"The battle’s done and we kinda won, so we sound our victory cheer."
The Gang may not know where they go from here. But they do know they are loved.
We may still not know where we go from here. But we do know it’s going to be an exciting ride.
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So is the circle complete? Did the Scooby Gang grow up this year? After all, Xander finally saves the world, Buffy admits to Giles that she needs to be on her own, Dawn gets a glimmer of hope that she might be promoted from mascot, and Willow, well Willow at least allows herself to come down from on high. Save some of your mojo for It’s A Buffy Wrap---a free-for-all summary of season six led by me, but dissected by you. Coming soon.
Post by Dalton on Feb 24, 2004 0:19:22 GMT -5
by Jen Sonstein
As I reflect upon season six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the soundtrack to "Once More with Feeling" plays in the background, providing me with sing-along entertainment for the umpteenth time since November. I sing to my reflection in the mirror "Going Through the Motions" with more feeling than I did "On My Own" in the depths of my Les Miserables obsession in 9th grade. Many months later, "OMWF"—its music and its acting—is still fresh, like any good Broadway show.
However, BtVS is television, not theater, and is therefore required to keep its audience attentive with inventive plot devices and interesting character developments. It can’t remain stagnant, counting on the loyalty of its fans to return time and time again for more of the same.
Did Whedon (in semi-absentia), Noxon, & Co. succeed in this mission?
Yes and no. Maybe.
With a change in upper management and networks, BtVS in its sixth season was bound to taste a little different than previous seasons. The jump to UPN allowed the writers to fully explore the maturation of the characters—most specifically, their sexuality. Willow and Tara, in a steady romantic relationship for the first half of the season, continued to enjoy each other, and their sexual relationship was more than implied in scenes such as their duet in the bedroom in OMWF ("Lost in ecstasy. Spread beneath my Willow tree. You make me cum-plete...").
Even more provocative than their monogamous lesbian action were the hardcore f&%*ing scenes between Spike and Buffy, complete with walls a-tumbling and ceilings falling. Season six marked the move from rated PG-13 television to rated R for the Scoobies. If by "Oh Grow Up," Joss meant the Gang was going to get some serious grownup booty, well, he put out.
If by "Oh Grow Up," Joss meant our Gang was going to act like middle-aged marrieds for the first part of the season, well, he went a little too far. There’s a difference between putting these people, four of whom are in their young twenties, in situations demanding more of them then they encountered in high school or early college. It’s quite another to relegate them to suburban boredom. Willow and Tara living together in Casa de la Summers as Dawn’s temporary guardians; Buffy’s return from the dead only to encounter the difficult responsibilities of being big momma of the house; and Xander and Anya’s domestic ride from hell. Granted, the Scoobies are at an awkward stage of life—the early twenties often are—but it was evident that the writers had as much trouble trying to acclimate the Scoobies to grown up life, as the Gang did themselves.
As much as "Oh Grow Up" has been touted as the overarching theme of season six, I’m not so sure that’s all we watched transpire this year. Growing up seemed more of a sub-theme, than the major focus. More interesting than their growing up, was the Gang’s growth apart.
Xander, Buffy, and Willow were all very selfish this year, focusing more on their own needs than those of their friends. Xander spent the year trying to prepare himself to be man enough for Anya. Buffy, in a daze after her return from the dead, struggled to feel human once more. Willow separated herself from her loved ones to explore a side of her she was always too frightened to explore—her daring and dangerous side. And dear old Giles finally left Sunnydale for home across the sea to get away from those damn kids and have a life of his own.
Whether it was the cause or the effect of growing apart, the Gang also kept many secrets from each other this past year. In fact, we, the audience, were privy to undisclosed information on each of the characters. Xander kept to himself about his fears of commitment and of being good enough for Anya. Willow hid her addiction to magic and Buffy kept her desire for Spike buried down deep. Whereas this tight-knit group of friends used to count on one another for love and for support, this year, they ran away from each other. Why?
Was it a lack of trust in each other or a lack of confidence in themselves? Perhaps it was a bit of both, mixed in with that natural need to become independent as you get older and farther away from high school. As the season ended, however, they seemed to drift back to each other. And from the looks of things, they’ll need each other’s support more than ever as season seven approaches. Willow will once again count on her friends to bring her back from darkness. And Buffy and Xander, now less focused on their "love lives," can center their attention on each other and their lost best friend. They must be held accountable for their actions this past year.
With Tara’s murder, Anya’s betrayal, and Spike’s disappearance in the last few episodes of the season, a group that was at eight last fall (Buffy, Xander, Willow, Anya, Tara, Spike, Giles, and Dawn), has now whittled down to four. The core three, plus their mascot, Dawn. There’s no telling, at this point, what role Spike and Anya will play in season seven. Both would-be Scoobies have run away from the group, scorned and in search of a part of themselves that existed B.S. (Before Scooby).
I’m looking forward to a rebirth of the old Gang. Not a reincarnation of what they once were, but a mutation. A Scooby Gang whose purpose, once again, is to fight evil while facing the challenges of everyday, but learning from their recent mistakes: that fights are easier fought when they’re fought together.
"What can’t we face if we’re together? What’s in this place that we can’t weather?
There’s nothing we can’t face..."