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"You think you can do that to me?"
December 17, 2013 8:49 AM   Subscribe

After the title character died at the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's fifth season (a season that included the death of Buffy's mom), the writers knew that the show had to be a little less dark in its sixth year. Hence the formation of The Trio, a triad of nerds who acted like they thought villains should act, got in way over their heads, and ended up, in the words of writer Drew Z. Greenberg, "tear[ing] the family apart in a way they’ve never been hurt before."
posted by Etrigan (327 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, season 6 was the epitome of light, frothy Buffy.
posted by jeather at 9:02 AM on December 17, 2013 [36 favorites]


Wait, they were trying to be LESS dark in the sixth season?

o_0

Season 6 has always been my personal favorite because the Big Bad isn't a vampire or a demon or a god, but just the endless painful grind of Real Life, a story about the letdown and depression of failed expectations and curdled hopes, like a quip-laden fantasy version of "A Dream Deferred."
posted by Scattercat at 9:02 AM on December 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


This is great! I'll admit that I'm a bit of a season six and seven hater, largely because of the hamfisted way Willow's growing lust for power was turned into "magic addiction," and because of the creepy creepiness of the Spike/Buffy stuff. But I did like the trio, especially Jonathon, who was one of the best recurring characters on the show even before season 6.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:05 AM on December 17, 2013


I loved Buffy's season 6. But um, weeping at your friends ripping you out of heaven/death and screwing a monster to act out your own self-loathing was the "light" version? Then what storylines were too dark to make the cut?
posted by rue72 at 9:07 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I always found season 6 very weird because (a) they seemed to be trying for light and funny at a time when the character's lives were dark; and (b) they tried the light and funny by giving us bumbling nerds as the bad guys who, you know, seemed to me to be a fairly large part of the fan demographic. So you want to make fun of your fan base and make them the bad guys. Right.
posted by nubs at 9:08 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obligatory.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:08 AM on December 17, 2013


Eh, put me in the camp of people who thought ending with Season 5 would have made the entire season much stronger. Season 7 is lackluster, but Season 6 was full of potentially good ideas that (it seems to me) we wasted by writers thrashing around with no clear direction, trying to generate "drama" by just pushing stuff over to see what would break.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:10 AM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


When the big bad was a secret government FrankenCyborg I knew they lost the plot.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:11 AM on December 17, 2013


They had several bad episodes in season 1, so I think they should have stopped there.
posted by skewed at 9:14 AM on December 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


Speculative Rewrite That Requires Time Travel: Season six is everybody trying to get on without Buffy and everything is terrible, daily life is a grind, the big bads are stupid dorks, and Suddently everybody remembers that things like rent and student debt exist. Show ends on a bummer note that while fighting monsters and saving the world is hard, it's nothing compared to dealing with Bank Of America or health insurance.

Cut to black, no theme song over the credits.
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 AM on December 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


bumbling nerds as the bad guys who, you know, seemed to me to be a fairly large part of the fan demographic.

i always assumed this was intentional - buffy couldn't die because the nerds needed more show. in sarah michelle gellar's world they might have been her enemy (since she wanted to be done way before the show ended). kind of fun to write it into the plot like that...
posted by nadawi at 9:16 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


OH BOY TARA'S IN THE OPENING CREDITS FINALLY
posted by griphus at 9:17 AM on December 17, 2013 [44 favorites]


Season 6 had some really good episodes that I'd hate to lose, but if they'd happened before the Season 5 finale that would be the best of all possible Buffies.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:17 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always found season 6 very weird because (a) they seemed to be trying for light and funny at a time when the character's lives were dark; and (b) they tried the light and funny by giving us bumbling nerds as the bad guys who, you know, seemed to me to be a fairly large part of the fan demographic. So you want to make fun of your fan base and make them the bad guys. Right.
posted by nubs at 5:08 PM on December 17 [+] [!]

The Cabin In The Woods seemed to suggest that the reason horror films are a load of terrible predictable old bollocks is because that's what the fans demand, so maybe Joss Whedon just absolutely hates each and every one of us.
posted by dng at 9:18 AM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


There were actually some really good things in season 6. Willow's increasing need for power and control. Buffy trying to deal with coming back from the dead. The musical episode. There were just a lot of not good things in season 6 (magic addiction! ha ha nerds are losers! Xander), and it didn't quite manage to find its way out of the hole it dug itself into.
posted by jeather at 9:18 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's weird is that I saw Season 7 twice, both on the air and later on disc, and aside from the finale I could not tell you what happened.
posted by The Whelk at 9:18 AM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nathan Fillion!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:19 AM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


What's weird is that I saw Season 7 twice, both on the air and later on disc, and aside from the finale I could not tell you what happened.

I could be wrong about this, but I think that Buffy gave an inspirational speech to the would-be Slayers.
posted by Jpfed at 9:20 AM on December 17, 2013 [27 favorites]


so maybe Joss Whedon just absolutely hates each and every one of us.

Oh, I don't think he hates us. I could fully buy into the idea that he really, really wishes we were more interesting, or at least more willing to trust a story and follow along with an idea to see where it goes.

and more accepting of the idea that sometimes, someone just has to suddenly die
posted by Naberius at 9:20 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Xander's eye happened in season 7.
posted by jeather at 9:20 AM on December 17, 2013


Nathan Fillion happened to Xander's eye.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:21 AM on December 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


And I like Season Six! It had some good ideas! I kinda love the idea of a big bad that's just this constant low level annoyance. I just thought some of the concepts weren't as well executed as they could've been. ( like, I get it show, playing around with magic is dangerous or else we'd do it all the time, but you ALLREADY HAD a great metaphor for that with the forgetfulness spells , I mean that's perfect, it requires no more this is your brain on witchcraft anvils. Using magic to make your life easier isn't a drug metaphor, it's a money metaphor.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:21 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's weird is that I saw Season 7 twice, both on the air and later on disc, and aside from the finale I could not tell you what happened.

I only saw it when it aired, but my memory is basically: oooo this mysterious "beneath you it devours" thing sounds rad! Something something potential slayers getting killed! Oh, wait, everything is sort of meandering now... oh, and THAT'S the origin of slayers? Um, gross. Xander's eyeball! Anya! Jonathon! ANYA! Ok well that giant pit is pretty cool I guess. That's literally ALL I remember.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:23 AM on December 17, 2013


Season 7 was the one of the most ridiculous examples of "grimdark" I've ever seen in my life.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:25 AM on December 17, 2013


I always found season 6 very weird because (a) they seemed to be trying for light and funny at a time when the character's lives were dark; and (b) they tried the light and funny by giving us bumbling nerds as the bad guys who, you know, seemed to me to be a fairly large part of the fan demographic. So you want to make fun of your fan base and make them the bad guys. Right.

To be fair, bumbling nerds basically describes the Scooby Gang as well, the whole show was a bunch of bumbling nerds.

Anyway, Warren was a super-villain in the making who was trying to rape a woman right in front of his friends. He was the actual bad guy (well, him and Willow). Andrew became a main in the next season and...I actually don't remember what happened to Jonathan? But he wasn't flayed alive, anyway! So I didn't really feel like it was a slash-and-burn anti-nerd extravaganza.

Speculative Rewrite That Requires Time Travel: Season six is everybody trying to get on without Buffy and everything is terrible, daily life is a grind, the big bads are stupid dorks, and Suddently everybody remembers that things like rent and student debt exist. Show ends on a bummer note that while fighting monsters and saving the world is hard, it's nothing compared to dealing with Bank Of America or health insurance.

Oh please, they had that huge house to sell (though granted, I'm sure property values weren't great right over the hellmouth). Plus, Dawn would have been getting SSI checks from their mom, and I am pretty sure would have been eligible for medi-cal.

Buffy was a super-strong, super-healing girl, whose friends were able to raise her from the dead; I really think any money spent on health insurance premiums for her would be a total waste.
posted by rue72 at 9:26 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Season Six is great! Maybe its because I'm just such a naturally depressive person that I'm all too willing to accept the crushing drudgery of life.

I love the Trio, to the extent that one can love truly evil villains. Evil can be bumbling, evil can be silly, and evil often has second thoughts about being evil.

Season Six also has problems, but so do most things.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:26 AM on December 17, 2013


Also, I was involved enough in fandom at the time to blame the ills of season six woes on the new showrunner Marti Noxon, who had been made necessary by Whedon's attention being diverted to Firefly, meaning FIREFLY RUINED BUFFY, YOU GUYS
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:27 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually don't remember what happened to Jonathan? But he wasn't flayed alive, anyway!

Hint: "I probably should have told somebody I was anemic."
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:28 AM on December 17, 2013


I actually don't remember what happened to Jonathan?

Andrew killed him because the First told him to.



"It eats you, starting with your bottom."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:29 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


And then NO ONE !%$@^$&$!%^ NOTICED THAT ANYA WAS DEAD. Man, that pissed me off and I was barely still paying attention by then.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:31 AM on December 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, I don't think he hates us. I could fully buy into the idea that he really, really wishes we were more interesting, or at least more willing to trust a story and follow along with an idea to see where it goes.

and more accepting of the idea that sometimes, someone just has to suddenly die


This is it, precisely. The sheer number of Whedon fans I have met who for example, praise Serenity but immediately follow it with, "but I will ever forgive Joss for killing Wash," makes me crazy. This is precisely the same as hating Garry Kasparov because in one famous game he sacrificed the queenside knight, which is your favourite piece.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:31 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


The solution to Buffy's problems in season 6 was painfully obvious to a large part of the target demographic. I, and many, many other seasoned D&D nerds spent a lot of time screaming the following phrase at the screen as Buffy worked at the DoubleMeat Palace:

"Loot the bodies!"
posted by MrVisible at 9:32 AM on December 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


Oh please, they had that huge house to sell (though granted, I'm sure property values weren't great right over the hellmouth). Plus, Dawn would have been getting SSI checks from their mom, and I am pretty sure would have been eligible for medi-cal.



Well, they still had all of Joyce's medical bills, and the house was hemorrhaging equity and in bad need of renovations. Which leads to one of my favorite lines from 6.



"NO...MORE...FULL...COPPER...REPIPE!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:33 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Honestly, I always thought the Buffy fanbase was overwhelmingly female, and 14-30 somethings. It never occurred to me that there were many male nerds in the fanbase.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:37 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can assure you that Willow Rosenberg played a formative role in my development as a young male nerd.
posted by Think_Long at 9:38 AM on December 17, 2013 [17 favorites]


I read the article last night and one of the things that stood out to me was Jane Espenson talking about how the Trio represented what can happen when someone is completely powerless. The Trio was what could have happened to the Scoobies, or any of us really, if we decide that we don't want to play by the rules of having no power and no real impact on the world. Instead deciding like the Scoobies to ally themselves with someone more powerful, or branch off on their own like Wesley did in the first part of Angel, Warren, Andrew, and Jonathan sought out power in evil rather than trying to save the world. I think that interpretation was why the Season Six bad guys were so important to me. It's a "There but for the Grace of my own Conscience go I" kind of situation.

Jonathan (and Danny Strong) was one of my favorite characters and to see him move to the dark side and then see just how bad they were getting, broke my heart. His end was not the end I wanted for him, but at the same time, we never could have clearly understood just how evil Andrew and Warren had become if it wasn't for the loss of Jonathan.
posted by teleri025 at 9:40 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Jane Espenson never gets enough credit for making Buffy what it was. Her Mad Men episodes are always excellent.
posted by The Whelk at 9:41 AM on December 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


I have been charmed by Jane Espenson's web series, Husbands.
posted by jeather at 9:41 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's funny, thinking about the house as an investment on Buffy. They could unload the house, but only for peanuts, and then they'd have to go through the rigamarole of buying or renting a new place.

There's no suggestion that the mortgage has been paid off, is there? The house needs considerable improvements, as pointed out above.

Also, imagine the property taxes on that sucker. Then again, after the death of the Mayor, I wonder what the local government situation was like in Sunnydale.

As for SSI, I remember receiving $1500ish a month after my dad died in the late 90s. It's not nothing, but it's supplementary, not a total solution.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:44 AM on December 17, 2013


And then NO ONE !%$@^$&$!%^ NOTICED THAT ANYA WAS DEAD.

No, I remember some brief exchange where someone mentioned they saw her die and Xander said something brief, but sad; I can't find the exact quote, but it was something like, the other person said she'd died trying to do something self-sacrificing, and he said "That's Anya, always doing the dumb thing" but in such a way that you knew that he really was touched.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:45 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps Willow and Tara could have paid rent.
posted by jeather at 9:45 AM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


His end was not the end I wanted for him, but at the same time, we never could have clearly understood just how evil Andrew and Warren had become if it wasn't for the loss of Jonathan.

Yeah, I loved his character arc. Jonathan is what happens to the morally weak. He doesn't mean to be evil. He just sort of...winds up doing evil. He doesn't have the wherewithal to be better or to say "no". And then he dies a henchman's death as a result. It's all the more poignant in light of how he's a Scooby, in the alternate universe. He could have been somebody else.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:46 AM on December 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


MOAR FINANICAL FANFICTION PLEASE
posted by The Whelk at 9:48 AM on December 17, 2013 [16 favorites]


Jane Espenson never gets enough credit for making Buffy what it was. Her Mad Men episodes are always excellent.

Is that how Jonathan time-travelled back to the 60s and showed up at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:48 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, I remember some brief exchange where someone mentioned they saw her die and Xander said something brief, but sad; I can't find the exact quote, but it was something like, the other person said she'd died trying to do something self-sacrificing, and he said "That's Anya, always doing the dumb thing" but in such a way that you knew that he really was touched.

Anya died a happenstance death in battle, but Andrew lied to Xander and said that she died saving his life. That's why Xander said "That's Anya, always doing the dumb thing."

I liked how Andrew attempted to use his talent for "storytelling" for the force of good, in order to give Anya's death more meaning.

I think it could have been handled better from a direction standpoint, but it's a good plot bit.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:48 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found it!
Xander: So, did you see?
Andrew: I-I was scared. I'm sorry.
Xander: Did you see what happened? I mean, was she...
Andrew: She was incredible. She died saving my life.
Xander: That's my girl. Always doin' the stupid thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:48 AM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can't find the exact quote, but it was something like, the other person said she'd died trying to do something self-sacrificing, and he said "That's Anya, always doing the dumb thing" but in such a way that you knew that he really was touched.

Yeah, Andrew tells Xander that Anya died saving his life and he replies "That's my girl, always doing the stupid thing."

It sorta parallels Wash's death and Zoe's reaction, except that Gina Torres is way way way better at selling it than Nicholas Brendon. (Gina Torres is basically way way way better than everybody at everything.)
posted by kmz at 9:49 AM on December 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's funny, thinking about the house as an investment on Buffy. They could unload the house, but only for peanuts, and then they'd have to go through the rigamarole of buying or renting a new place.

Well, they could have tried renting it out and using Xander (and guys from his crew) as their handymen. Though I think the solution of having all their friends move in and pay rent to help with the mortgage was probably for the best.

MOAR FINANICAL FANFICTION PLEASE

OK OK I WILL STOP before I start musing about how UC Sunnydale students might affect the rental market.
posted by rue72 at 9:50 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


After the dorms in season 4, I just assumed that all interior spaces were approximately 1.5 times larger in the Buffyverse than they were in real life.

I have been charmed by Jane Espenson's entire existence, pretty much. And looking back on it, a lot of the Marti Noxon hate was pretty gross. But god, season six would have been so much better without being so heavy handed about the magic-as-drug metaphor. They already did so much setup with Willow's insecurities making her think that she had to use magic to keep people around her, they didn't have to have her have a lost weekend and then go to magic rehab.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:50 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


MOAR FINANICAL FANFICTION PLEASE

After Willow magically manipulates local government officials into thinking that the house's property taxes are being paid, the gang finds themselves in hot water with IRS warlocks!!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:50 AM on December 17, 2013 [26 favorites]


It sorta parallels Wash's death and Zoe's reaction

Um, point of order, this DID NOT HAPPEN. In any world, ever, that has possibly existed or even been conceived of, Wash is alive. Do not speak of this again.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:51 AM on December 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


IRS warlocks

Welp, that's my band name settled.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:52 AM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Andrew of course, went on to intern at that shadowy organization under that cabin in those woods.
posted by The Whelk at 9:52 AM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


And looking back on it, a lot of the Marti Noxon hate was pretty gross.

It was really really super gross, and being one of the epicenters of the hate is one of the reasons I never liked TWOP much.
posted by kmz at 9:53 AM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wouldn't have been so angry about the how Anya's death was handled if they hadn't been trying so hard to make me care about whether the principal would live or not. I get that she died in that fashion for a reason but it felt like "Oh, Anya died but some newly introduced character managed to survive so yay!"
posted by MaritaCov at 9:53 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


After the dorms in season 4, I just assumed that all interior spaces were approximately 1.5 times larger in the Buffyverse than they were in real life.

Oddly, the solution to this lies in How I Met Your Mother (you know, that show that stars Willow Rosenberg after she went into Witness Protection): in one episode, Willow and her beard are gushing over their palatial new apartment, and the narrator points out that, while they remember it being THIS BIG, in actuality it was this big (cut to shot of them stepping over each other without even realizing it).

So now I just remember that in every show, we're essentially seeing what the characters see when they look at their living conditions, and the huge NYC apartments all make sense.
posted by Etrigan at 9:54 AM on December 17, 2013 [16 favorites]


MOAR FINANICAL FANFICTION PLEASE

Willow realizes that duplicating money can be done via a simple spell, but accidentally releases Numismato, the demon of currency. Giles saves the day when he offers Numismato a position as the Magic Box's bookkeeper, which is infinitely more favorable than having to show up every time a magic user realizes they can duplicate dollar bills. The world economy collapses shortly thereafter and Numismato realizes where he's truly needed, goes back to his old job and turns back time allowing only Willow and Giles to keep their memory.
posted by griphus at 9:55 AM on December 17, 2013 [22 favorites]


It sorta parallels Wash's death and Zoe's reaction

Plus Zoe's stoic reaction makes a lot more sense, because the audience knows that she's a soldier and a First Mate. She handles death professionally, even when it's the death of her husband. This is especially poignant in light of the fact that Mal's choice to embark on this mission led to Wash's death. This, in turn, has added poignancy as well, as Mal's mission was arguably inspired by how Zoe had been calling Mal out early on in the movie for refusing to save that one guy from the robbery in the first act.

Serenity is the story of how Mal remembers what it's like to be a hero, as opposed to a robber who is just getting by, and Wash's death was one of several ensuing tragic costs.

In other words, Serenity >>>>>>>>> Season 7 of Buffy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:55 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I AM TOTALLY WATCHING BUFFY S6 FOR THE REST OF THE DAY AND IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT.

I hope you are happy with yourselves.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:59 AM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I like to think that one of the unspoken lessons of Buffy is how to cast a tv series for maximum cast compatibility.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:00 AM on December 17, 2013


All this talk about Wash's death has made me want to watch this Firefly fanvid but it's not available on streaming so I have to wait until I get home. So no, I'm not happy.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:02 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"OH BOY TARA'S IN THE OPENING CREDITS FINALLY"

Fuck you, Joss. *grumble, grumble*

"And then NO ONE !%$@^$&$!%^ NOTICED THAT ANYA WAS DEAD. Man, that pissed me off and I was barely still paying attention by then."

Yeah, fuck you for that, too, Joss. Also, they killed off Amanda and not Kennedy. That's just spiteful.

"I'll admit that I'm a bit of a season six and seven hater, largely because of the hamfisted way Willow's growing lust for power was turned into 'magic addiction,' and because of the creepy creepiness of the Spike/Buffy stuff. But I did like the trio, especially Jonathon, who was one of the best recurring characters on the show even before season 6."

If it weren't for OMWF, Tabula Rasa, Two to Go (Dark!Willow making fun of Dawn and Giles's entrance), and a few other things, I think I'd hate season six. And don't get me started on season seven.

I agree with others that many of the ideas in season six were interesting and had potential, but I think the execution wasn't good.

I mean, I was surprised and snorted at the line in the link that was about how the Trio were "beloved". That's not how I remember it. Jonathon is beloved. But neither Warren or Andrew are, except possibly by the writers and producers. The biggest problem with season six is that Adam Busch couldn't carry the weight he was asked to carry. And I don't think the writing for Warren was very good, either. He alternated between being boring, unimpressive, annoying, and That Guy Who Says Misogynist Things So We Know He's Really Evil.

And don't get me started on Andrew. I admit that he was occasionally funny. But he was so one-note, he had no depth at all. Neither did Warren. Jonathon had depth, and he was the one we were supposed to sympathize with. The other two were cartoonish or boring, or both.

The idea of a human villain, of human evil being upsetting and shocking in a way that the supernatural villains weren't, that's a good idea. The idea that white nerdy male sexist resentment would express itself as really revolting evil ... that's a good idea, except that it's everyday reality. I see enough of that on MetaFilter. And then also comic relief? That's asking way too much for those three characters and the writing for them and the actors playing them.

In my opinion, The Trio *cough* is right there with Adam and The First at the bottom of the fan's list of Big Bads.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:02 AM on December 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


MOAR FINANICAL FANFICTION PLEASE

Willow realizes that duplicating money can be done via a simple spell, but accidentally releases Numismato, the demon of currency. Giles saves the day when he offers Numismato a position as the Magic Box's bookkeeper, which is infinitely more favorable than having to show up every time a magic user realizes they can duplicate dollar bills.

If the Magic Box = laundering operation, they should probably keep Numismato away from the books. You know, to cover themselves/plausible deniability.

But wait, what can Numismato do?

And oops, this is exactly what got Jonathan in trouble, isn't it?
posted by rue72 at 10:03 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like to think that one of the unspoken lessons of Buffy is how to cast a tv series for maximum cast compatibility.

Somewhat ironic, in light of how Sarah Michelle Gellar gets along with everybody else from the show!
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:03 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Trio *cough* is right there with Adam and The First at the bottom of the fan's list of Big Bads.

OK, but that's three out of seven seasons already, and I think everyone tends to forget just how dorky The Master was.
posted by psoas at 10:06 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The idea of a human villain, of human evil being upsetting and shocking in a way that the supernatural villains weren't, that's a good idea.

How do you think that fits in with Giles killing Ben in order to kill Glory (while keeping Buffy's hands clean)?
posted by rue72 at 10:07 AM on December 17, 2013


How do you think that fits in with Giles killing Ben in order to kill Glory (while keeping Buffy's hands clean)?

Are you saying there's some relationship between Ben and Glory?
posted by casualinference at 10:09 AM on December 17, 2013 [50 favorites]


The master was okay, but the annotated one? Ugh.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:09 AM on December 17, 2013


OK, but that's three out of seven seasons already, and I think everyone tends to forget just how dorky The Master was.

Adam at least had Spike to play off of.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:10 AM on December 17, 2013


Also, in terms of ending the show after five seasons, while I agree that Season 6 and 7 had tons of problems, and could have been executed a lot better, if the show ended with The Gift one of the key thematic thrusts of the show would have been moot. Buffy is special. Not just because she's the Slayer, but because she's a Slayer with real friends and a Watcher who actually cares about her. Via the power of her friends, her found family, she's able to change the misogynistic narrative of the one expendable girl used by a patriarchal secret society. If we ended with season 5, Buffy is just another dead Slayer in a long line of dead Slayers.

(Not that there aren't negative consequences too, as evidenced by "Damages", but major power shifts are never completely positive.)
posted by kmz at 10:12 AM on December 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


"...and he said 'That's Anya, always doing the dumb thing' but in such a way that you knew that he really was touched."

I don't know. Like someone else wrote, I see what they were doing there, but it seemed so much less than Anya deserved. I cared more about Anya than I did Xander of Buffy.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:13 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Willow realizes that duplicating money can be done via a simple spell, but accidentally releases Numismato, the demon of currency.


I am now shipping Anya and Numismato.

She always deserved better than Xander Harris.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:15 AM on December 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


Marti Noxon is an absolute hack. She destroyed season 6, inside and out. What could have been a fascinating, engaging, find-your-humanity-again storyline (Buffy & Spike) was turned into really disturbing crap because Noxon decided to be inspired by the story of someone's rape (no, I'm not kidding).

Having followed Noxon's work on other shows, she demonstrates the same ham-fisted style as ever. I cringe when I see her writers credit on any show I watch.

Season 6 is worth forgetting entirely, much like Season 4's Riley dreck. Gah.
posted by gsh at 10:15 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Trio *cough* is right there with Adam and The First at the bottom of the fan's list of Big Bads.

The Trio wasn't the Big Bad. They were the Little Bad (see also Spike in S2, Trick/Faith in S3, Maggie Walsh in S4).

The comprehensive and inarguable ranking of Big Bads is simple:

The Mayor
Angelus
Glory (yes, you know this to be true)
The Master
Dark Willow

The First






Adam
posted by Etrigan at 10:16 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Normal Again" is one of the darkest things ever done in the show, with the possible exception of Buffy coming home all successful for once to find her mom dead. That was impossibly brutal.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:16 AM on December 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


The comprehensive and inarguable ranking of Big Bads is simple:

The Mayor


Anybody who thinks the Mayor is the best Buffy Big Bad is a-okay by me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:17 AM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


"...and he said 'That's Anya, always doing the dumb thing' but in such a way that you knew that he really was touched."

I don't know. Like someone else wrote, I see what they were doing there, but it seemed so much less than Anya deserved. I cared more about Anya than I did Xander of Buffy.

Yes. And like someone else wrote, Gina Torres (and the Zoe character) pulled off the stoic response to senseless tragedy much better than Nicholas Brendan (and the Xander character). It was such a throw-away.

I liked that there wasn't a big death scene--because that's in many ways more real and more tragic--but it was so offhand and unimportant to everyone as they are driving away from the battle with all the dead demons, and yay! we won, so who cares that we're leaving behind one of our central characters whose dead and no-one really noticed when she fell?
posted by crush-onastick at 10:18 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


*cough*Drusilla*cough*
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:19 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


*cough*Drusilla*cough*

She wasn't even bad. When Darla came back from the dead, Drusilla helped her out and took her shopping! Psycho vampire bitch and all, but good people.

I'm not even going to get started on the bullshit that Angel was pulling with Darla, I will try to stay as restrained as Drusilla at least.
posted by rue72 at 10:27 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know how everyone who hadn't read the books but was watching Game of Thrones went into shock around The Red Wedding while people who had read the books chortled with glee?

I had the same thing happen to me with Tara's death. I don't know how I avoided being spoiled about it, but watching in with the girl I was dating in 2005-2006 (we watched the entire show and all of Angel. In fact, we managed to finish Angel just in time before things ended) who had seen all of Buffy was like that. I had been complaining for all of Season 6 that Tara was not in the credits and come on, why not, this was dumb and hey, she's in the credits. Big grin on my face and then Willow and Tara were making up. I figured it was the calm before the storm and was wondering what abomination the Trio would dredge up for the finale. But mostly I was just happy that Amber Benson was finally getting the recognition in the credits she deserved.

After the short period of glee, my girlfriend had to console me for a little bit before we were able to watch the next episode. Seeing Warren skinned alive was incredibly cathartic. I was rooting for Dark Willow until the bit where she suddenly decides to kill the world.

If I remember correctly, weren't Benson and Busch dating at the time the episode was filmed?
posted by Hactar at 10:30 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


"The Trio wasn't the Big Bad."

Yeah, I tend not to think of them that way because I don't think that Dark!Willow as Big Bad really worked, either. But you're technically correct, of course. That was another idea that really sounded good, and had some great moments, but overall felt very unsatisfying and not-quite-right to me. Which is weird, because they'd done some of the groundwork long before.

I guess it didn't work for me because there was no doubt that Willow would be saved from herself and the world would be saved from Willow. So, to me, it was like an extended thing with Vampire!Willow, except not nearly as fun. There was no doubt there was going to be a reset.

What would have carried so much more weight, is if Buffy had actually killed Dark!Willow. But after having Tara been killed, that would have been way, way too dark and too much loss. But you couldn't get to Dark!Willow convincingly without killing Tara and, anyway, they never, ever would have killed Willow because Hannigan was indispensable on that show.

So I don't know how it could have actually worked.

It's like Joss emailed Noxon about ten great ideas that Noxon and the rest of the team were nowhere near competent to realize. Not that Whedon doesn't fall on his face with some of his ideas that initially sound really great, too. But season six was a bunch of really interesting ideas in a big, ugly mess.

I totally agree with your rankings.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:33 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had the same thing happen to me with Tara's death.

Because of a MeFi comment I quickly skimmed past years and years ago, I knew something really bad would happen to Tara, but not when or how.

And, right after the gunshot, the fact that my wife had whispered "Warren" full of hate under her breath every time he was on screen from his first appearance finally made sense.

And then there was at least five minutes of:
"So Willow's gonna figure out how to..."
"Nope, she's dead."
"But what about Giles and all the magic and..."
"She's dead, dude."
"But..."
"Dead."
posted by griphus at 10:36 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Marti Noxon is an absolute hack. She destroyed season 6, inside and out. What could have been a fascinating, engaging, find-your-humanity-again storyline (Buffy & Spike) was turned into really disturbing crap because Noxon decided to be inspired by the story of someone's rape (no, I'm not kidding).

I'm just going to let Joss speak on the Noxon bashing:
How sick am I of Noxon-bashing? Enough to break my rule of silence, certainly. I've had so many people rag on her for aspects of the show I developed, or praise me for things she came up with. She's been a vital part of everything people love about Buffy since she overhauled the halloween script in season two. She's as good a story-breaker as I've ever worked with. And she's a leader.
posted by kmz at 10:37 AM on December 17, 2013 [17 favorites]


There has been enough mention of Firefly in this thread that I feel comfortable adding that I saw Wash at Newark Airport, and to my now-husband's horror and joy, when up to him at the baggage claim and told him that I was really sad when he died. He gave a really nice smile.

Also, Warren really bummed me out and my brain can't really parse how he and Tara dated IRL. Sigh.
posted by armacy at 10:38 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clearly, I have issues separating Whedon from reality.
posted by armacy at 10:39 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


to my now-husband's horror and joy, when up to him at the baggage claim and told him that I was really sad when he died. He gave a really nice smile.

I suspect he gets that a lot. I'm surprised he didn't ask "Which time?"
posted by Etrigan at 10:39 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The comprehensive and inarguable ranking of Big Bads is simple:

Oh yay, a rabbit-hole! GLORY IS AT LEAST TOP TWO, IN YOUR HEART YOU KNOW THIS.
posted by psoas at 10:40 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Psycho vampire bitch and all, but good people."

And such a victim of Angelus. When we saw that backstory and Drusilla before she was turned, she broke my heart. I'd long seen Drusilla just as you describe, that she was loopy but in relative terms, mostly harmless and really just needed someone like Spike to look after her. But seeing that she was a frightened young woman who had visions that she believed made her cursed by the devil ... I just felt bad for her.

Everybody used her. Interestingly, Spike didn't really use her, as I recall. But Angelus did, Wolfram and Hart did, Darla did.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:41 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suspect he gets that a lot. I'm surprised he didn't ask "Which time?"

Hey, he's not Sean Bean or Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Actually, when else has he died?
posted by kmz at 10:41 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Season 6 was great. I loved Xander getting to save the world. He deserved a bit of the spotlight, with all the hate directed at him.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


GLORY IS AT LEAST TOP TWO, IN YOUR HEART YOU KNOW THIS.

The Mayor is best at everything forever. I don't particularly care who you put in second.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:46 AM on December 17, 2013


Buffy was a super-strong, super-healing girl, whose friends were able to raise her from the dead; I really think any money spent on health insurance premiums for her would be a total waste.

Look, if everybody who has a healing superpower just opts out of the system, we're never going to be able to afford comprehensive health care for everyone.
posted by straight at 10:46 AM on December 17, 2013 [30 favorites]


GLORY IS AT LEAST TOP TWO, IN YOUR HEART YOU KNOW THIS.

I love Glory, don't get me wrong. I think she (and all of S5) have been unfairly maligned by the fanbase. But who do we take out of the top two? The Big Bad of the single best season of broadcast television history, or the Big Bad so big that he was one of the primary long-term villains of not just another show, but in fact of his own show?

Sorry, but Angelus and the Mayor were the result of careful long-term planning. Glory was a single-season villain (despite the hints from previous years), and for that, she belongs in the second tier. Firmly atop the second tier, but nevertheless.
posted by Etrigan at 10:47 AM on December 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


Here here.
posted by maryr at 10:48 AM on December 17, 2013


And don't get me started on Andrew. I admit that he was occasionally funny. But he was so one-note, he had no depth at all.

That was true in Season 6, but the Season 7 episode where Buffy forces him to confront what he'd done and repent is one of my favorite episodes and maybe the best depiction of a character moving from denial to blaming others to repentance I've seen on a TV show.
posted by straight at 10:51 AM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


the Big Bad so big that he was one of the primary long-term villains of not just another show, but in fact of his own show?

I remember being stunned at how much better the actor was who they got to play Angelus than the boring prettyboy who had been playing Angel.
posted by straight at 10:52 AM on December 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Having watched the entirety of Bones, I can't help but think "where in god's name was this actor during Buffy?"
posted by griphus at 10:58 AM on December 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Where? Where?
posted by Naberius at 10:58 AM on December 17, 2013


The weirdest part of interacting with Buffy Alums in non-Buffy contexts was becoming a fan of Common Rotation and then realizing that was Warren being all charming on the stage.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:01 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first Buffy I ever watched, was the broadcast second half of "Once More With Feeling."

So Season 6 will always be my favorite, and that episode, along with Tabula Rasa, are still favorites.
posted by Danf at 11:02 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having watched the entirety of Bones, I can't help but think "where in god's name was this actor during Buffy?"

I think being surrounded by really good actors for like seven seasons on Buffy and Angel did wonders for his acting skills. Like an acting workshop, but seven years long.

His original accent is one of the most hillarible things ever.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:02 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think it took the writers a long time to realize that Boreanaz was a better comedic actor than he was as Slab McChunkvanilla. Probably not until Angel S2.
posted by Think_Long at 11:03 AM on December 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Given my name, I have to comment but I don't have much to add other than A) I briefly met Tom Lenk once and he was very sweet and 2) though season 6 is great, season 7 is the best.
posted by williampratt at 11:04 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd put Glory above Angelus because I always believed Glory's menace, but with Angelus I always felt like I had to suspend my disbelief really hard. But maybe I was just kind of bored of that insight-cruelty-play villain type.

(And yeah, the Mayor takes the gold easily.)
posted by stebulus at 11:05 AM on December 17, 2013


The best thing about Angelus is how angry everybody is at Angel for the things Angelus does with his body. Until they forgive him a couple of episodes later.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:06 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Buffy was a big acting workshop for a lot of people. Hell, I didn't think Amber Benson was much of an actor until her and Willow broke up, and she suddenly got to play something more complex than lurrrrve. And yeah, Boreanaz way more engaging when he was able to be funny.

I loved the Trio in S6, though. That whole season was about ordinary horrors– work, depression, family– so it seemed just right that the big bad would be a bunch of comical bumblers who do great harm mostly because they're stupid bumblers. And their pathetic, weak stumbling into evildoing was much scarier than the mwa-ha-ha of previous villains. There were plenty of weak points, but overall, way too many great moments to write it off. Season 7, though... Ugh.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:07 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Sorry, but Angelus and the Mayor were the result of careful long-term planning. Glory was a single-season villain (despite the hints from previous years), and for that, she belongs in the second tier. Firmly atop the second tier, but nevertheless."

Yeah, I have to agree with that. Glory was pretty great, but there were times when she wore a little thin. I don't think that ever happened with the Mayor and Angelus, well. Angelus wasn't always perfect, but as you say, the character and Boreanaz's portrayal were extremely potent.

I'm always a little (or a lot) amazed at how Boreanaz fills up the screen and electrifies it as Angelus relative to Angel. I know that scenery-chewing villains are in some sense easy for actors to play, but I feel that Boreanaz brought some subtlety to Angelus that I (mostly) didn't see in his portrayal of Angel.

Angel as Boreanaz portrayed him really was pretty much the way that Spike, among others, characterized him. Brooding, tortured, blah blah blah. On Angel, I think he did bring a lot more to the character over time, but still Angel as a character wasn't very imaginative. But Angelus, as Boreanaz portrayed him and as he was written (but I think most of this came from Boreanaz), I think you could see that his nihilistic, devil-may-care with the witty repartee had at its core a rage. Angelus was really evil, there was something bitter at his core, he seemed to be having fun but that was kind of a self-delusion, he really wasn't having fun at all. And Boreanaz let that show in little ways. Angelus was funny and scary, but also ugly in some hard-to-define respect. Not "ugly" just because he was evil and did horrible things and enjoyed doing them, but "ugly" the way that disgusting things are ugly. There was something rotten there.

And the thing is, you have to ask, as both shows' mythology says that, yes, in fact, the personality of vampires has a lot to do with the humans they were, what is there at the heart of what is so wrong with Angelus, relative to all these other vampires who vary from almost regular people, to hedonistic predators, to megalomaniacal would-be-dictators, Angelus is really just terribly unhappy at his core and so where is that aspect of Angel?

The writers may have hinted at this, but it's also not really present in Boreanaz's portrayal of Angel. Boreanaz, I think, just didn't find the character of Angel as interesting to play as Angelus, and so perhaps that's part of why Angelus is so much more interesting, even accounting for that fact that he would be anyway, to the audience than Angel.

Anyway, Angelus is one of those rare television villains that are just a pleasure and a thrill to watch.

And the Mayor was a very distinctive version of evil. He was funny and in a charming way, and also touching, and that was totally organic to what they were trying to say about the nature of his evil.

The two of them have to be at the top of the list. Leaving Glory in third place; not because she wasn't a really good Big Bad, but because the Mayor and Angelus were truly exceptional.

"...where Buffy forces him to confront what he'd done and repent is one of my favorite episodes..."

It's one of those great television moments, no question. And suddenly in that scene, we see Andrew as three-dimensional. But I think that was basically the exception that proved the rule.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:08 AM on December 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


For me David Boreanaz became much more of a Slab McChunk when they started letting him be a goofball. After however-many seasons of him brooding around, the thing where he dramatically jumps into the wrong convertible in Angel slayed me.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:09 AM on December 17, 2013


Angelus is really just terribly unhappy at his core and so where is that aspect of Angel?

But that is the wrong question to ask.

Vampirism either reverses an individual's strongest trait or corrupts it in some vile fashion. Angelus wasn't fashioned from Angel, he was born from Liam. Liam, the black sheep, drinking his troubles away. Callous, thoughtless, the kind of person you would find facedown and dead in a gutter without even a hint of surprise. Look at Liam's interaction with his father and there's your rage.

Angel is, in some odd way, the allergic reaction you get from having a soul applied. Being Angel is waking up having been Angelus for decades and remembering every tiny atrocity with the revulsion of conscience. That tiny little voice which would have said "no" in the back of your heart can now only scream in horror again and again at that photographic memory disgorging torment, murder, and blasphemy. Smiles would be hard to come by, knowing that your devil-may-care grin had been the last thing so many bleeding humans saw.
posted by adipocere at 11:20 AM on December 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Zoe's reaction to Wash's death is one of the best things about Serenity (a movie I adore and re-watched last night, in fact.) Not just the immediate, military-trained reaction ("he ain't coming") but the later one, after the funeral, when they're flying off, and Mal asks, ostensibly about the ship, how they're all doing. Zoe's stoic response, "she's tore up plenty but she'll fly true," just destroys me.

As for Buffy, I might be in the minority but I think 6 was absolutely the best total season they pulled off, and a big part of it was in how dark things were despite these comical Big Bads. Basically, the real Big Bad of Season 6 was the Scoobies themselves, especially after the tiniest of pushes that Sweet gives them in "Once More, With Feeling" that more or less just dissolves them. The Trio is funny at face value (except when Warren is in rape mode, obviously) but scary when you consider just how easily the Scoobies would have taken care of them in any other season. And then, when the gang is finally, tentatively getting back together, the end of "Seeing Red" just reminds us that we're not strong enough, are bonds of friendship aren't strong enough, the universe is random and hates us, and nothing is ever going to be good or happy ever again.

Which isn't all or even most of why I adore Season 6 so much, but it's what allows for Xander's ending to be one of the most well-earned I've seen on television (well-earned enough that I don't care that it was, in one sense, another cliché-ed Christ allegory.) The end of Season 3 (particularly the moment when the entire class stands up for battle) is the best of the finales, because it is such a perfect culmination of all three seasons leading up to it. The Season 6 finale is only for it's season, but wraps that whole season up as a story that meant something as a whole. God I'm tearing up just thinking about it.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:21 AM on December 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


The mayor's to-do list alone makes him the best.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:21 AM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Look, if everybody who has a healing superpower just opts out of the system, we're never going to be able to afford comprehensive health care for everyone.

Actually, the only reason Canada is even able to afford a single-payer system is because it turns out that all Canadians possess Wolverine's mutant healing factor.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:22 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd long seen Drusilla just as you describe, that she was loopy but in relative terms, mostly harmless and really just needed someone like Spike to look after her. [...] Everybody used her. Interestingly, Spike didn't really use her, as I recall. But Angelus did, Wolfram and Hart did, Darla did.

I always liked Drusilla and Spike together, fuck me I thought they'd make it!

This might be over-the-top, but I saw Spike's obsession with Buffy as a very emotionally intense rebound from his split with Drusilla. Dru broke up with him because, with the chip, Spike was too limited and controlled...so then he became obsessed with the most uber-controlled, duty-driven person in the universe, who kept telling him he was too much of a monster? I'm not trying to psychoanalyze, but come on.

But seeing that she was a frightened young woman who had visions that she believed made her cursed by the devil ... I just felt bad for her.

She was sort of right though, wasn't she? Angelus wanted to turn her for the visions, and that did lose her her soul. Dru was a smart cookie. This is the woman who told Spike that they should try to stay friends even when they broke up (hahahahaha). I mean, compare that to Xander ditching Anya at the alter.

Honestly, I liked Spike and I liked Buffy, and I liked watching Spike and Buffy together, but if the show was going to do a "close relationship develops between Slayer and vampire" I'd rather have seen that happen with Drusilla and Faith. I honestly have no idea where that could have gone.

what is there at the heart of what is so wrong with Angelus, relative to all these other vampires who vary from almost regular people, to hedonistic predators, to megalomaniacal would-be-dictators, Angelus is really just terribly unhappy at his core and so where is that aspect of Angel?

On Buffy, Angelus was scary and a great villain...but on Angel, he wasn't really, I didn't think.

On Angel, Angelus talked big and could be kind of douche-y, but he wasn't exactly racking up a big body count and his activities were mostly limited to things like vision quests with Faith. Meanwhile, Angel would do stuff like mope-fuck his ex and slap the shit out of Conner, etc, *plus* was pretty lacking in self-awareness about it. So I thought he was actually the scarier one on that show.

I'd put Glory above Angelus because I always believed Glory's menace, but with Angelus I always felt like I had to suspend my disbelief really hard. But maybe I was just kind of bored of that insight-cruelty-play villain type.

I believed the Glory/Ben dichotomy more than I did that of Angelus/Angel, so the Glory/Ben storyline packed more punch for me.

But on the other hand, I think that the Angelus/Angel split is a lot more complex, so I think the show was right to get Glory/Ben over in a season and mine Angelus/Angel for years upon years.
posted by rue72 at 11:22 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait ... do we suspect there may be some kind of connection between Ben and Glory?
posted by adipocere at 11:26 AM on December 17, 2013 [22 favorites]


Is it Buffy-verse heresy to prefer Angel (the series) over Buffy? After a rough season and a half or so, it settled into some much better long term storytelling. Even if I HATED Angel as a character when he was on Buffy, oh boo fucking hoo you gorgeous immortal bastard go cry into your beautiful lovers bosom and party with your not-adequately-explained fortune.

It is probably because I am a boy, I'll admit. The redemption theme of Angel was ultimately more appealing to me then the self-empowerment theme of Buffy.

But it did have a WAY better ending, don't even try to deny that.
posted by mediocre at 11:29 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


But on the other hand, I think that the Angelus/Angel split is a lot more complex, so I think the show was right to get Glory/Ben over in a season and mine Angelus/Angel for years upon years.

That's a very good point.
posted by stebulus at 11:30 AM on December 17, 2013


Mediocre: I haven't seen much Angel, and certainly not the finale. Do they spitefully kill off the series' best character in a way that if you blinked you would miss it? And then barely mention it afterwards? Because if not, then yes, it is a better finale than Buffy had.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:31 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait ... do we suspect there may be some kind of connection between Ben and Glory?

OK, I am terrible at reading sarcasm, so, in case this is in earnest -- this is from the wikipedia:

Glory was too powerful to destroy, so they banished her into the earthly dimension, where her essence would be imprisoned in a human child named Ben, created solely to "contain" her until he eventually died as a mortal, sealing her.

Glory was too powerful to be completely contained within the human vessel and when Ben reached his 20s, Glory began to gain control over Ben for short periods of time, taking the form of a vain, self-centered human female possessing superhuman strength, speed and invulnerability.

[...]

However, as Ben and Glory's personalities begin to merge more and more (see below), the magical ruse weakens until, in the finale, the whole gang is able to see through it. This human form is Glory's only weakness; if the human vessel containing her is killed, then Glory perishes with him.


Giles killed Glory by smothering Ben while Ben was injured/paralyzed. As Giles did it, he told Ben that he was killing him that way in order to keep Buffy's hands clean.
posted by rue72 at 11:32 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


but if the show was going to do a "close relationship develops between Slayer and vampire" I'd rather have seen that happen with Drusilla and Faith.

Drusilla and Faith? I'm really curious why those two. I don't even remember them interacting on either show. They probably did on Buffy, but I can't recall a scene.
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:32 AM on December 17, 2013


"That tiny little voice which would have said 'no' in the back of your heart can now only scream in horror again and again at that photographic memory disgorging torment, murder, and blasphemy. Smiles would be hard to come by, knowing that your devil-may-care grin had been the last thing so many bleeding humans saw."

I strongly agree with your point about Liam and Angelus, I actually had that in mind. But that rage and self-destruction in Liam that became Angelus would present somehow in Angel, not just as tormented self-hatred, but with no visible rage and self-destructiveness.

Angel living on rats and living in the street for ninety years is self-abnegation and a kind of repentance, but it's passive in a way that's unlike Liam nor Angelus. The Angel I see in the transformation narrative you describe would be a penitente, he wouldn't self-abnegate, he would actively punish and torture himself. That rage of Liam's that was indiscriminate and self-loathing and dissolute which became externally-directed and diabolically murderous and torturous in Angelus would become inwardly-directed in Angelus.

Now, Boreanaz could work with only what was given him by the writers, which was a broody, boring, and not-so-bright guy. Okay, but we could have had glimpses of more of an internal life in Angel, something beyond that sad-sack regret.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:33 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, rue72, but are you saying there's some kind of connection between Ben and Glory? Do you think Ben knows something about Glory?
posted by straight at 11:34 AM on December 17, 2013 [35 favorites]


Do they spitefully kill off the series' best character in a way that if you blinked you would miss it?

.. kinda? (no spoilers)
posted by mediocre at 11:35 AM on December 17, 2013


I loved the Trio in S6, though. That whole season was about ordinary horrors– work, depression, family– so it seemed just right that the big bad would be a bunch of comical bumblers who do great harm mostly because they're stupid bumblers.

This, OK, this is what I was thinking but didn't know how to say. Thanks, TFB.

Also, maybe Angelus seems more interesting in retrospect to people who have watched Angel. I haven't, so I don't know what he evolves into.
posted by psoas at 11:36 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, rue72, but are you saying there's some kind of connection between Ben and Glory?

Is everyone here very stoned?
posted by jeather at 11:37 AM on December 17, 2013 [27 favorites]


There is no doubt that Boreanz has done a lot of learning to act, but I find his performance forgivable in the context of Buffy. In a way, it made him almost more perfect for the role.

One thing the show does brilliantly well is frame the world through the eyes of a teenage girl; Angel as one-dimensional Hunky McMeat, Joyce as angelic mother, authority figures as evil controlling monsters, absentee dad as either villainous or perfect, depending on the day. I found Angel (the show) so interesting because I feel like you get to see the person he actually is and not just the brooding chiseled slab that Buffy sees.

I think if you watch the show as if Buffy is retelling her experiences as she remembers them and not necessarily as they actually occurred, it gets a lot more interesting.
posted by annekate at 11:38 AM on December 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


Is everyone here very stoned?

Define "very."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:41 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Actually, spoiler alert, the entirety of Buffy (and I suppose by association Angel) is the delusion of totes normal human female Buffy Summers damaged mind as indicated by that one episode.
posted by mediocre at 11:42 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, I am terrible at reading sarcasm, so, in case this is in earnest -- this is from the wikipedia:

Rue, for context. Go to the memorable quotes section.
posted by Think_Long at 11:47 AM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I'd rather have seen that happen with Drusilla and Faith. I honestly have no idea where that could have gone."

That is very, very interesting. I've never thought of that pairing before, but I like it. And I can totally see Faith deciding to take care of Drusilla and them being a couple. I don't know how it would work as far as the vampire/slayer thing would go, but they found ways to do it on Buffy, so it's possible.

I always thought that post-Buffy spin-off should have been Faith, with Xander as her (in-training) watcher. Xander could have lost his ineffectuality, they had already slept together, as adults and as Slayer/Watcher, they could have had an interesting dynamic. And I envisioned Faith being forced to be on-the-run because of her jail escape and so they move from town-to-town Kung Fu style, fighting vampires and demons.

In the series premiere, they have to kill a Vampire!Andrew, who has become twenty times more interesting.

"One thing the show does brilliantly well is frame the world through the eyes of a teenage girl; Angel as one-dimensional Hunky McMeat, Joyce as angelic mother, authority figures as evil controlling monsters, absentee dad as either villainous or perfect, depending on the day. I found Angel (the show) so interesting because I feel like you get to see the person he actually is and not just the brooding chiseled slab that Buffy sees."

That's an excellent analysis; I'm impressed.

"I haven't seen much Angel, and certainly not the finale. Do they spitefully kill off the series' best character in a way that if you blinked you would miss it?"

Um ... no.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:48 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, rue72, but are you saying there's some kind of connection between Ben and Glory? Do you think Ben knows something about Glory?

Is everyone here very stoned?

Rue, for context. Go to the memorable quotes section.

Yup, I know. Sigh. Siiiiigh.
posted by rue72 at 11:49 AM on December 17, 2013


I don't know about that. I see Angel as mourning what Angelus has done. He is indeed passive and most of that comes from a sense of self-doubt. He must doubt all of his interior voices, must be suspicious of his urges, because the demon is still inside of him. His need to drink blood has not decreased by one drop per day. Neither, I suspect, is is desire to hurt people down in their souls. Pre-seeing-Buffy-at-Hemery-High, he is a miserable wretch because he has no idea what to do, only things he knows he must not do.

And capital E evil is fairly easy to avoid. Hey, Angel, don't try to pull the sword from the big rock holding the demon. Hey, Angel, try not to murder anyone on the way to the store. It's the little E evil that is tough. His attraction to Buffy, is it a noble, knight-worthy thing, or is it his old tendencies finding another way to manifest? What relationships could you forge knowing that you're taking the place of someone human and healthier for the soul? When could you ever allow yourself to be truly angry at anything when you fear that its hidden source is the demon within, hungry for a little mayhem, just a crumb, please? Devoid of moral certainty (and how could you believe in yourself ever again), you get someone who is passive, stoic, measuring each word for minimal impact. ("I, too, know the love of a taciturn man.")

In parallel, there's an interesting, relatively new comic graphic novel called Bedlam, whose central premise is that a Joker-like (Madder Red) villain has been forcibly reformed, over a decade, via psychosurgery and practices which make the Ludovico Technique look like clicker training. The result is this hesitant character, Fillmore Press, who knows not to do evil but isn't exactly clear on this "good" thing. Mostly he figures staying in his apartment and not interacting with people is a good way not to be evil. Of course, plot demands otherwise ...
posted by adipocere at 11:50 AM on December 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


She's as good a story-breaker as I've ever worked with. And she's a leader.

And she's not wearing underwear.
posted by Danf at 11:57 AM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


After however-many seasons of him brooding around, the thing where he dramatically jumps into the wrong convertible in Angel slayed me.

It is possible there is a level of irony I am missing here, or maybe it is just that I am more patient than you, but this moment happens about eighteen minutes into Season 1, Episode 1. So, about 0.02 seasons of brooding?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:02 PM on December 17, 2013


The best thing about Angelus is how angry everybody is at Angel for the things Angelus does with his body.

This used to bug me, but I think it makes complete sense, both that hardly anyone would be able to compartmentalize like that (basically trauma victims face-to-face with the source) and that Angel would feel too guilty to object, regardless of how unjust it is.

Until they forgive him a couple of episodes later.

Do they? Seems like the Scoobies more or less successfully tolerate his presence, but I don't get the sense anyone ever warms to Angel besides Buffy (talking about on Buffy, not Angel).
posted by straight at 12:04 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is possible there is a level of irony I am missing here, or maybe it is just that I am more patient than you, but this moment happens about eighteen minutes into Season 1, Episode 1. So, about 0.02 seasons of brooding?

Plus three from Buffy, though.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:09 PM on December 17, 2013


Buffy and Angel were always the two least interesting characters in Buffy and Angel.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:11 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Anthony Stewart Head in particular found the sweet spot in playing against Angel, where every interaction with him shows just a bit of the fight between "this monster murdered my love in about the cruelest way imaginable" and "but this isn't really that, and this person before me isn't responsible for those actions."
posted by Navelgazer at 12:11 PM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Until they forgive him a couple of episodes later.

Do they? Seems like the Scoobies more or less successfully tolerate his presence, but I don't get the sense anyone ever warms to Angel besides Buffy (talking about on Buffy, not Angel).


And even on Angel, whenever anyone says "Angelus," you can see everyone tense up immediately. It's like living with a dog who's bit you once -- you may love him dearly, but when he snarls, even if you know that he's only snarling at some strange dog walking by the front yard, you can't help but take a step back.
posted by Etrigan at 12:13 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Giles was both hurt the most (don't forget his torture) by Angelus and has the best intellectual understanding of why he shouldn't blame Angel.
posted by straight at 12:13 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Gosh, I am just flattered as all get out by all the things people here have been saying about me! I really should take some time to correct a few of the inaccuracies in Mr. Whedon's characterization of myself, but we could be here all week, and who really has time for that? Life is for living, I always say!

Suffice it to say that I am simply tickled that all of you nice people think so fondly of me!
posted by Mayor Wilkins at 12:16 PM on December 17, 2013 [37 favorites]


Buffy and Angel were always the two least interesting characters in Buffy and Angel.

So true, they were always more the canvas than the paint. I marathon watched all seven seasons of Buffy over a few weeks not too long ago, and there were parts when it was just Buffy onscreen where I was thinking, "Hurry and get back to the gang! I want to know what Giles and Anya are up to!"
posted by Panjandrum at 12:18 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's a hell of a fine job you did on your profile there, Mayor!
posted by Navelgazer at 12:18 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Panjandrum, are you me?
posted by Navelgazer at 12:19 PM on December 17, 2013


WILKINS '16
posted by Etrigan at 12:20 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Giles was both hurt the most (don't forget his torture) by Angelus and has the best intellectual understanding of why he shouldn't blame Angel.

And Giles was the originator of that wonderful line in the first episode: "You have to remember that when you see him, you're not looking at your friend. You're looking at the thing that killed him."

Giles would have been quite aware that Angel is as much a victim of Angelus as anyone else. It's a complicated dynamic and I agree Anthony Stewart Head pulled it off.
posted by annekate at 12:29 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe a more recent photo would be appropriate, Mr. Mayor?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:29 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


WILKINS '16

He's running in Toronto? The whole Rob Ford saga suddenly makes sense.
posted by straight at 12:30 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think Angel got a lot better once they brought Ben Edlund on. I had forgotten that he wrote "Smile Time" (puppet Angel), one of the best episodes ever.
posted by mogget at 12:30 PM on December 17, 2013


So I was at the barbershop, getting a facial traditional shave when "I Only Have Eyes For You" came on and I visibly tensed up.

Buffy man. Stays with ya.

I was wondering why the Fright Night DAVID TENNANT IN LEATHER PANTS remake felt like an old Buffy episode and boom, Marti Noxton right here in the credits
posted by The Whelk at 12:32 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's a hell of a fine job you did on your profile there, Mayor!

I think you mean that's a heck of a fine job. Language.

But I appreciate the compliment! Really I just threw it together quickly so I could get here and tell everybody how much I've enjoyed their nice comments!



WILKINS '16

Well, I don't want to tell stories out of school, but I think there might be a few people getting quite a surprise in the next couple of years! Don't forget to get out there and vote, kids!
posted by Mayor Wilkins at 12:33 PM on December 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


Honestly Ben Edlund should be on call for all TV shows.
posted by The Whelk at 12:33 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had forgotten that he wrote "Smile Time" (puppet Angel), one of the best episodes ever.

Okay, I know I'm stealing this from someone (TWOP?), but it's so good:
There's this one superdramatic scene in Smile Time where these double doors open, and the whole Angel Investigations crew comes walking out in slo-mo, and the camera pans down to show puppet-Angel in the front. But puppet-Angel is patently too small to have opened the doors. Which means that someone else opened them, and then puppet-Angel shoved his way to the front for no reason other than to be the badass leading his team out the door -- not into a room, mind you; just out a door. And that totally makes sense for the character to have done.
posted by Etrigan at 12:35 PM on December 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Season 6 had the musical episode. Best episode ever. The only way it could have been better would be if it had also been made with puppets.

so season 6 is my favourite.

(Also lots of Tara, I loved Tara).
posted by jb at 12:36 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


And while I'm at it.. I always had a nagging problem with the Buffy finale and how she may have well been dooming the whole world to eternal darkness. So she takes the SuperMagicBloodAxe and uses it to unleash the power of an apparently WILDLY higher number of potential slayers then ever previous even hinted at. The power in that axe couldn't be infinite, and the magic they used dispersed whatever was in it. So now there is an undisclosed huge number of Suddenly Slayers, many of whom just by law of averages are likely mentally unstable. The watchers council doesn't even exist anymore to teach them. That likely isn't going to end well. And that's BEFORE we even get to 50 years in the future when there are NO MORE SLAYERS EVER AGAIN.
posted by mediocre at 12:39 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Panjandrum, are you me?

I think it's just that we are ALL wondering what antics Giles and Anya are up to offscreen (or at least that's what the amount of slashfic has led me to believe).
posted by Panjandrum at 12:41 PM on December 17, 2013


My harbor is full of new and exciting ships all of a sudden.
posted by The Whelk at 12:42 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


And that totally makes sense for the character to have done.

When accused of having a penchant for the dramatic earlier in the season, he steadfastly denied this to which she responded "Okay, so you always enter the room bursting through both doors?"
posted by mediocre at 12:42 PM on December 17, 2013


> The power in that axe couldn't be infinite...

Careful, it's this kind of overthinking that leads to midichlorians.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:42 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


And while I'm at it.. I always had a nagging problem with the Buffy finale and how she may have well been dooming the whole world to eternal darkness. So she takes the SuperMagicBloodAxe and uses it to unleash the power of an apparently WILDLY higher number of potential slayers then ever previous even hinted at. The power in that axe couldn't be infinite, and the magic they used dispersed whatever was in it. So now there is an undisclosed huge number of Suddenly Slayers, many of whom just by law of averages are likely mentally unstable. The watchers council doesn't even exist anymore to teach them. That likely isn't going to end well. And that's BEFORE we even get to 50 years in the future when there are NO MORE SLAYERS EVER AGAIN.

I seem to recall a Season 5 Angel episode dealing with exactly that.
posted by kafziel at 12:44 PM on December 17, 2013


SUDDENLY SLAAAAAAYERS


ARE FIGHTING BESIDE YOOOOOU
posted by The Whelk at 12:47 PM on December 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah, Suddenly Suave Andrew has reformed the Watchers Council. Still doesn't deal with the fact that there is no more battery for slayer power to draw from for future generations. And the Sunnydale hellmouth wasn't even the only one, the actions of Buffy Summers were just outrageously reckless and ultimately will doom the daywalking remnants of mankind that fall prey to the rampaging hordes of supervampires and cacodemons pouring from hellmouths across the planet and the last (ever) slayer is like 104 and spry but not really able to do much to stop it.
posted by mediocre at 12:48 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's magic. Logic not required.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:49 PM on December 17, 2013


Stop raining magic on my logic parade.
posted by mediocre at 12:50 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's just a show, I should really just relax.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:55 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do you REALLY think the Slayer Gods would put all of their eggs in one SuperMagicBloodAxe basket? Of course not. It turns out there was also a... SuperMagicBloodSwissArmyKnife, only we didn't hear about it before now because the ancient text that mentions it was lost until five seconds before we need it. Turns out, Willow had checked it out from the library like, years ago, and just never got around to bringing it back.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:59 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's probably something about this in the Season 8 comics I never read.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thank you for giving me a perfectly universe-specific reasoning, It's Raining Florence Henderson.

Handwavium is totally okay when it keeps the series premise intact. It's how I imagine The Doctor will regenerate beyond 12.
posted by mediocre at 1:04 PM on December 17, 2013


There's probably something about this in the Season 8 comics I never read.

Wikipedia suggests that there kind of is, and that it's just as silly and convoluted as you're probably imagining.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:05 PM on December 17, 2013


And while I'm at it.. I always had a nagging problem with the Buffy finale and how she may have well been dooming the whole world to eternal darkness. So she takes the SuperMagicBloodAxe and uses it to unleash the power of an apparently WILDLY higher number of potential slayers then ever previous even hinted at. The power in that axe couldn't be infinite, and the magic they used dispersed whatever was in it. So now there is an undisclosed huge number of Suddenly Slayers, many of whom just by law of averages are likely mentally unstable. The watchers council doesn't even exist anymore to teach them. That likely isn't going to end well. And that's BEFORE we even get to 50 years in the future when there are NO MORE SLAYERS EVER AGAIN.

For me, the Buffy finale is amazing, and a great culmination of the some of the most important themes of the show. Throughout the series, Buffy works to transform how the Slayers lives and operates - having friends, rejecting the patronizing and patriarchal authority of the Watcher's council, and so on. She systematically reclaims and transforms power relations. The final activation of the Potentials represents not just a further leap of this but a radical transformation. Instead of just a Chosen One and her friends, things were broken open. What were once "mere pimply girls", as Caleb called them, became something wholly different through Buffy and Willows willingness to thoroughly share their power. They became Slayers, each with the ability to stand strong with others and no longer at the mercy of powers beyond them that they do not understand and can only fight as isolated individuals. Who needs the damn Watcher's Council? They have each other.

Then of course, the comics threw it all away.
posted by williampratt at 1:10 PM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Handwavium is totally okay when it keeps the series premise intact. It's how I imagine The Doctor will regenerate beyond 12.

In The Five Doctors, the High Council gave the Master a new set of regenerations in return for his assistance, thereby establishing that the limit of 12 is artificial oh god I'm disappearing into a geek vortex someone throw me a football
posted by Etrigan at 1:12 PM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


> the High Council gave the Master a new set of regenerations in return for his assistance

Offered, not gave. It is implied that regeneration limits can be broken, that they are granted rather then biological, etc. However in The Deadly Assassin, when the desecated remains of what I presume was the Delgado Master try to claim a new regeneration cycle it takes the destruction of an Eye Of Harmony/Gallifrey to do so. An awesome amount of power. The Doctor would probably just prefer to die then go to such lengths to ensure his continued being.
posted by mediocre at 1:16 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


That is not a football. You are not helping.
posted by Etrigan at 1:20 PM on December 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is a football hidden in the 3-D portrait gallery. In case of emergency, break glass.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:22 PM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Does anyone else find themselves reminded of Ted from How I Met Your Mother by Warren?

But [angel] did have a WAY better ending, don't even try to deny that.

I wish to do more violence.
posted by flaterik at 1:22 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


"close relationship develops between Slayer and vampire" I'd rather have seen that happen with Drusilla and Faith.

I don't know if there was any Buffy character more heterosexual than Faith. I don't mean her sexual acting out. I mean... That there is a straight girl through and through.

the actions of Buffy Summers were just outrageously reckless

That's so much of what I loved about that show. It wasn't afraid to make our hero reckless, thoughtless, mean, small, and not infrequently just plain wrong. Most shows make their characters more likable with time; Buffy did the opposite.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:26 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought for sure I saw a comic that took place in the future, with a new Slayer fighting future vampires. Maybe I just dreamed it after watching an episode of Batman Beyond?

Surprised by all the love for Tara. I had a group of friends come over every week in college to watch BtVS together, and we all hated her character. Whiny and clingy with a flat affect and no interesting powers other than being a weaker witch than Willow. In a franchise like Buffy and Angel filled with amazing characters, hers may have been the weakest.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 1:28 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


So she takes the SuperMagicBloodAxe and uses it to unleash the power of an apparently WILDLY higher number of potential slayers then ever previous even hinted at. The power in that axe couldn't be infinite, and the magic they used dispersed whatever was in it. So now there is an undisclosed huge number of Suddenly Slayers, many of whom just by law of averages are likely mentally unstable. The watchers council doesn't even exist anymore to teach them. That likely isn't going to end well. And that's BEFORE we even get to 50 years in the future when there are NO MORE SLAYERS EVER AGAIN.

"The story is about a Vampire Slayer of the future named Melaka Fray and her discovery of what being a Slayer means.

Centuries have passed since the last Slayer was called. Demons were banished from the Earth at some point in the 21st century by an unnamed Slayer and her friends, and the Watchers' Council has decayed into a group of crazed fanatics. The vampires (dubbed lurks) have now returned and haunt the city. To combat this threat, a new Slayer is called: a professional thief named Melaka Fray. With the Watchers' Council ineffective, a group of "neutral" demons send the demon Urkonn to prepare Melaka for the war that is sure to come."
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:28 PM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


It sorta parallels Wash's death and Zoe's reaction, except that Gina Torres is way way way better at selling it than Nicholas Brendon. (Gina Torres is basically way way way better than everybody at everything.)

The writing is so much better too. "How's she doin'." "She's broken up; but she'll fly true."
posted by Sebmojo at 1:29 PM on December 17, 2013


Ah, the finale of Angel. There was the farewell to Wesley that may be one of the best things ever, and this little fuck yeah moment:

Marcus Hamilton: Let me say this as clearly as I can. You cannot beat me. I am a part of them. The Wolf, Ram, and Hart. Their strength flows through my veins. My blood is filled with their ancient power.
Angel: Can you pick out the one word there you probably shouldn't have said?


Speaking of the Army of Slayers, there was also the Angel episode Damage where Andrew shows up to retrieve a slayer. He lets them know he's taking his marching orders from Buffy and then a group of teenage girls come out of the dark to back his play. The Army of Slayers is in good hands.
posted by Ber at 1:30 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know if there was any Buffy character more heterosexual than Faith. I don't mean her sexual acting out. I mean... That there is a straight girl through and through.

Did you even watch "Bad Girls"?
posted by kmz at 1:30 PM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't know if there was any Buffy character more heterosexual than Faith.

Lol. No. Faith is clearly bisexual. I used to ship Buffy/Faith hardcore when I was into Buffy. Which I was always at odds with myself about because I think Buffy is as straight as an arrow. I still ship them though.


Buffy/Faith 5ever!

posted by nooneyouknow at 1:32 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did you even watch "Bad Girls"?

Seriously. All my friends who wrote Buffy/Faith can't be wrong.
posted by suelac at 1:33 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always thought Buffy ended one season too soon. There should have been a Season 8, in which, having literally vanquished Hell, Earth must now face the ultimate evil: A planet full of all-powerful, merciless Buffies.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:33 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know if there was any Buffy character more heterosexual than Faith. I don't mean her sexual acting out. I mean... That there is a straight girl through and through.

Did you even watch "Bad Girls"?


I don't know that I'd necessarily say she's the most heterosexual character, but Faith does a lot of things because she thinks they're shocking and kewl and EXTREME. Grinding up on another girl doesn't really prove that she's bisexual, it just proves that she thought doing that would be transgressive.
posted by Etrigan at 1:35 PM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, exactly. That was some serious sorority girl in a sports bar grinding.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:43 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know if there was any Buffy character more heterosexual than Faith. I don't mean her sexual acting out. I mean... That there is a straight girl through and through.

I was talking about them as a duo. Neither of them seem that into monogamy, so I wouldn't think coupling up would be in the cards anyhow.

If I were to put together a romantic pairing, not taking orientation into account, then I'd put Spike and Willow together. They seem to me like they'd be good for each other, and actually have very similar personalities and tastes.

I don't know if Dru and Faith would be good for each other or not -- imagine Want Take Have but with Dru/Faith instead of Dru/Buffy? Dayyyyyum.

I think that Drusilla and Faith's personalities and needs would have played off each other in a really interesting way, I would have liked to see what they'd have brought out in each other. If they had had to function as a team/friends/whatever, Faith might have had to be the sane one, and Drusilla might have had to be nurturing -- I do think both characters would have been capable of going to those places, but none of their other relationships (romantic or not) really forced them to. Plus, Faith was so needy and Drusilla so oddly serene, I don't know, I can actually see them getting along well, aside from the Slayer/vampire thing. So, as far as Slayer/vampire pair-ups go: I think they're a more complicated yet natural pair-up, personality- and needs-wise, than Spike and Buffy were.

The romantic relationships on Buffy actually seemed like a weak spot in the show to me, at least compared to how other sorts of relationships on the show were handled. The only romantic relationship that I was genuinely interested in was Anya/Xander.
posted by rue72 at 1:56 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


pft. like we've ever let logic get in the way of a good pairing.

xander/larry or giles/ethan duh
posted by The Whelk at 1:56 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't you mean "Buffy/Faith 5x5Ever!"?
posted by mogget at 1:57 PM on December 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


Don't you mean "Buffy/Faith 5x5Ever!"?

Yes. Yes, I do.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:58 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I dunno, I quite liked the Season 8 comics until it went all "SO WAIT [REDACTED] AND [REDACTED] FUCK A NEW UNIVERSE INTO EXISTENCE??? THAT MAKES NO SENSE!!!'

There is a totally adorable nod to Who fandom in one of the Season 8 issues. (You see the 10th Doctor and Rose walking around London.)
posted by Kitteh at 1:59 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just loved that even in-universe nobody knew what the hell that was supposed to mean.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:00 PM on December 17, 2013


Giles/Dru/Spike
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:01 PM on December 17, 2013


Joyce/Adam
posted by Navelgazer at 2:04 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is this where I can give a shout-out to my Pretend High School Boyfriend, Oz?
posted by Windigo at 2:04 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love how EVERY SINGLE PERSON I have ever exposed this show to falls in love with Oz.
posted by The Whelk at 2:05 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Time-traveling young badass Giles/everyone
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:06 PM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


We just call him Ripper, and yes.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:07 PM on December 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


I love how EVERY SINGLE PERSON I have ever exposed this show to falls in love with Oz.

Really?! As soon as he realized he was wolfing out and busted out those shackles that were somehow at his parents' house I thought he was creepy.
posted by rue72 at 2:07 PM on December 17, 2013


The great thing about relationships on Buffy is that almost any random combination of two characters is a better pairing than the ones that exist, with the possible exception of the one night stand ish ones. Well, and Xander/Anya. I would love to see those two in a JW directed Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, with Wesley and Fred as the younger couple.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:11 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]




young badass Giles


"See I wonder what ASH looked like as younger man - I ...*snort*"
posted by The Whelk at 2:11 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I would love to see those two in a JW directed Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, with Wesley and Fred as the younger couple."

Why, why would you do this to me The Whelk?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:17 PM on December 17, 2013


To you, everybody's a flop. Your husband's a flop, I'm a flop.

You're all flops. I am a Vengeance Demon, and you are all flops.
posted by The Whelk at 2:19 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


"See I wonder what ASH looked like as younger man - I ...*snort*"

See also...
posted by the_artificer at 2:28 PM on December 17, 2013


"See I wonder what ASH looked like as younger man - I ...*snort*"


. . . garsh . . . gulp
posted by Think_Long at 2:29 PM on December 17, 2013


The most alarming thing about Mayor Wilkins has been, for me, his utterly unexpected and unintentionally menacing appearance on the West Wing.
posted by uberchet at 3:08 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


You know how everyone who hadn't read the books but was watching Game of Thrones went into shock around The Red Wedding while people who had read the books chortled with glee?

I had the same thing happen to me with Tara's death. I don't know how I avoided being spoiled about it


I was the same way! I hadn't seen Buffy until a month or so ago when I marathoned all seven seasons while working from home and keeping a running FB commentary about it all, and I knew just about everything that was coming as a result of commenters and my own peeking ahead and just having been alive around geeks for the past 15 years, but nobody mentioned a thing about that (I even knew Dark Willow was coming, but had never thought to wonder why.)

Everything about that episode ("Seeing Red") was just devastating. It's hard to remember much beyond the final moments, but that was also the one with Spike's attempted rape of Buffy, which itself was one of the most upsetting things to occur on the show, and I think made Tara's death even more out-of-the-blue, since it felt like we'd reached our quota and then some already.

Buffy was, in general (and IMHO, of course) better the more grounded it was. In terms of threats, I mean. I think that's why I was kind of meh on Glory. There was no foundation for what she was supposed to represent (aside from Sandra Bernhard, apparently). She was just a God, there causing trouble. I'll happily take Adam over that - at least that represents Hubris.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:17 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Naw. Not everyone falls in love with Oz. Lots of people think he's just NonManic Pixie Dream Boy and lacks any resemblance to a person you'd actually meet or crush on.

I could have sworn that came up in an earlier Buffy thread, but damned if I can find it.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:10 PM on December 17, 2013


(Oz) lacks any resemblance to a person you'd actually meet or crush on.

Same with Matt Bomer, but I sure like having him on my tv.
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:23 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Oz was based on Joss's college roommate?
posted by dinty_moore at 5:24 PM on December 17, 2013


Also (from my straight male perspective, so who knows) I think Oz came in and stuck around at the exact time period where Xander's Nice-Guy™ bullshit was getting most grating, and so he seemed very refreshing. Thankfully Xander (kind of) matured out of that by the later seasons.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:26 PM on December 17, 2013


I find Oz to be a super grating representation of what a nerdy male thinks a "cool guy" would be like. He's in a band! That's cool, right?

I guess he strikes me as more of a (weirdly childish) male self-insertion fantasy than anything else. Since yeah, Xander was too pathetic (at the time) for that and Angel is too beefy and Giles is too old. Hence, Oz.
posted by annekate at 5:30 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and the fact that he ends up dating Willow and HE ALONE can see how cool/beautiful/special she is would seem to lend credence to that theory.
posted by annekate at 5:31 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, Oz is 100% Manic Pixie Dream Boy. C'mon.
posted by maryr at 6:02 PM on December 17, 2013


"See I wonder what ASH looked like as younger man - I ...*snort*"



"No, I don't think you are needed tonight, Corporal Giles...

...I say, just a minute, Corporal- you seem troubled...is something bothering you? You do give every appearance of some grave thing weighing upon you...is something the matter?

No, do sit down, Corporal Giles...surely we can speak as friends here. Forget rank, if just for a moment- we've been through enough together. Would you like a brandy? Is there anything you wish to say to me?"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:10 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, Oz is 100% Manic Pixie Dream Boy. C'mon.

That word - I do not think it means what you think it means.

Now, if you were arguing he's a Laconic Pixie Dream Boy, I'm listening.

Anyways, I lurved tiny ginger Oz. I spent a lot of time dating guys in bands, so I can't point any fingers there.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:21 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, Oz is 100% Laconic Pixie Dream Boy. C'mon.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:36 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lots of people think he's just NonManic Pixie Dream Boy and lacks any resemblance to a person you'd actually meet or crush on.

That's so weird to me. If anything, Oz is the definitional example of a certain kind of laid-back high school guy who's in a band. I went to high school with at least four guys like that. Maybe it's a regional thing?
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:39 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I liked that yes, he was cute and painted his nails and had awesome hair and all that, but I also liked that Oz wasn't always yapping away like everyone else. He served the purpose of summing up everything around him neatly with a well-placed sentence or two. Totally laconic-pixie dream werewolf boy, yes. But perfect for a teenage girl to sigh over.

My favorite bit was:

Willow: Do you wanna make out with me?

Oz: What?

Willow: Forget it. I'm sorry. Well, do you?

Oz: Sometimes when I'm sitting in class... You know, I'm not thinking about class, 'cause that would never happen. I think about kissing you. And it's like everything stops. It's like, it's like freeze frame. Willow kissage. Oh, I'm not gonna kiss you.

Willow: What? But freeze frame.

Oz: Well, to the casual observer, it would appear that you're trying to make your friend Xander jealous or even the score or something. And that's on the empty side. See, in my fantasy when I'm kissing *you*, you're kissing *me*. It's okay. I can wait.


I liked that.
posted by Windigo at 7:16 PM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think that Drusilla and Faith's personalities and needs would have played off each other in a really interesting way, I would have liked to see what they'd have brought out in each other. If they had had to function as a team/friends/whatever, Faith might have had to be the sane one, and Drusilla might have had to be nurturing -- I do think both characters would have been capable of going to those places, but none of their other relationships (romantic or not) really forced them to. Plus, Faith was so needy and Drusilla so oddly serene, I don't know, I can actually see them getting along well, aside from the Slayer/vampire thing. So, as far as Slayer/vampire pair-ups go: I think they're a more complicated yet natural pair-up, personality- and needs-wise, than Spike and Buffy were.

Hmm, never thought of those two working together but I agree it would be interesting. I can't recall any interaction between the two, but Dru killed Kendra, which made Faith a Slayer. There's some sort of weird supernatural connection there.
posted by creepygirl at 7:43 PM on December 17, 2013


I guess he strikes me as more of a (weirdly childish) male self-insertion fantasy than anything else. Since yeah, Xander was too pathetic (at the time) for that and Angel is too beefy and Giles is too old. Hence, Oz.

To me, Oz seems like the proto-version of Hyde from That 70s Show. Except that Hyde was a scumbag and the show was basically unapologetic about it, whereas Oz only had the faintest whiff of scumbag and the show still tried really hard to show how not-a-scumbag he was.

Like that he failed senior year -- but was crazy smart and getting recruited by big companies and slam dunked tests. And he seemed high all the time -- but he was apparently getting high so far off-screen it had zero to do with any of the other characters and was never really referenced that I can remember. And he was "experienced" -- but totally fine waiting until Willow felt comfortable sleeping with him and was super into her.

Not that Oz needed to be scummy at all, it just seems weird to me how far the show seemed to go to assure us that an already pretty regular, non-shady guy was SO NOT SHADY FOR SURE EVERYBODY. And meanwhile Buffy was getting with Angel and Spike was hanging out and even Xander was being pretty marginal, so it's not even like Oz was the shadiest boyfriend on the show even at the time.

This is sort of just bellyaching because I actually loved how "good" the kids were supposed to be -- how all the characters referenced studying for tests and made study dates and when Buffy was "rebelling" with Faith she did it by skipping class, etc. So overall, it's basically fine even with me that Oz's already blunt, tiny "dangerous edge" got way overcompensated for, I like that the show was sweet enough to try and assure everyone that Willow wouldn't get with anyone actually terrible, even if it was maybe overkill in Oz's case.

It just never seemed clear to me where they were trying to go with Oz, aside from just hooking up Willow with somebody.
posted by rue72 at 8:01 PM on December 17, 2013


I always assumed that Oz deliberately flunked senior year so he could spend another year hanging out with Willow.

I'm not sure where they were planning to go with Oz either, except maybe serving as the sacrificial lamb for the Dark Willow arc in S6 if he'd stayed around that long. But he and Willow were decent to each other for the most part, and I liked it as a counterpoint for the other toxic relationships on the show.
posted by creepygirl at 8:30 PM on December 17, 2013


You know, I could have done something productive with my evening instead of watching Graduation Day again.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:59 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always assumed that Oz deliberately flunked senior year so he could spend another year hanging out with Willow.

Yeah, probably the real reason was that they wanted to keep Seth Green/Oz, and that was the easiest way to do it. Though again, they were trying so hard to make him not sleazy that he ended up not making sense -- I assume they didn't just send him to community college or UC Sunnydale (which, come on, they knew they'd need to create a UC in town after another season anyway if they wanted to keep the cast/framework of the show intact) because they didn't want to have high schooler Willow dating a college guy. Except that Buffy's boyfriend was 100+ years old at the time. Well anyway. Over-thinking.

This is why I can't watch shows about characters with legitimately complicated lives, by the way -- now I'm off on some mental tangent about Oz trying to transfer his CC credits over to UC Sunnydale to join Willow at college. As if that could have mattered at all, that could never have been a storyline it's so boring. Likewise, I will not tell you how many times I have found myself considering why Walter of circa S2-4 of Fringe should get a cell phone and which type and plan he should get. Another topic I find myself lost in thought about for more than the -10 seconds anyone should think about it are the banking operations that would allow Peter access to Walter's paychecks without Walter having access, and what kind of payscale they're both on, and oh my god stopping now. Sigh. Anyway:

Petrie: His misogyny definitely grew. And we never played with that stuff. If someone was racist or homophobic or misogynist, any little nook in your karma would come to fuck you in the end on Buffy. We never ignored that stuff, ever. Any moral choice really affected you.

Isn't this an odd thing to say, in the context of an interview in which the writers are talking at length about decisions like killing off a "good guy" like Tara? In a "fair" world where every immoral act gets punished, then doesn't any bad thing that happens seem like a punishment for something immoral? Doesn't getting punished become a signal of immorality? But I doubt they're trying to say that Tara was killed because she was immoral.

That's a pretty harsh read, not really fair. It just jumped out at me as really tone-deaf considering the main topics of this particular interview were the banality of evil, and Tara's death, and a real-life school shooting, and 9/11.

Espenson: Ultimately for me, it’s about how dangerous it can be to make anyone feel powerless. There’s a very understandable reaction to being oppressed to say, “Well, then, screw you!” If we took more care to make sure no one in our society in their formative years feels bullied, then we’ll have a better chance of them not striking out.

This also just seems so weird in context -- in the same interview they're explicitly bringing up racism and homophobia and saying Warran is a bad guy because he's a misogynist, and then they explicitly bring up oppression...but they bring up oppression to say that people shouldn't be bullies? Not that bullying is OK, but to bring up types of systemic oppression against huge classes of people and then to very soon after equate oppression with bullying, that just seems like such a mismatch in terms of scale. Again, though, that's a harsh read, and I also don't even think it's necessarily a fair read.

I guess I'm just trying to say that I think the writing on the show(s) is more insightful than this interview makes it out to be, and it's frustrating to me to hear these pseudo-insights coming from the writers, especially since these particular pseudo-insights sound almost right to me (but still not quite right)...but of course the writing is more insightful, that's why these people are professional writers not professional interviewers/bullshitters/lit majors so *shrug*
posted by rue72 at 9:03 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Like that he failed senior year -- but was crazy smart and getting recruited by big companies and slam dunked tests."

I really liked that about him because that was me and I never get to see who I was as a teen in television or film. Those aspects of Oz were totally realistic to me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:10 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jane Espenson never gets enough credit for making Buffy what it was. Her Mad Men episodes are always excellent.

Espenson has written for LOTS of awesome TV shows. But never Mad Men.
posted by crossoverman at 9:13 PM on December 17, 2013


Petrie: His misogyny definitely grew. And we never played with that stuff. If someone was racist or homophobic or misogynist, any little nook in your karma would come to fuck you in the end on Buffy. We never ignored that stuff, ever. Any moral choice really affected you.

Ok Petrie. Explain Xander in light of the above. Please. Because while I loved the idea of Xander as a character (the normal guy who keeps hanging around and pitching in while everyone else gets powerful), in reality he did a lot of fucking morally questionable shit and I'm not sure he really got fucked in the end.
posted by nubs at 9:18 PM on December 17, 2013


Espenson has written for LOTS of awesome TV shows.

And also Miracle Day.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:20 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because while I loved the idea of Xander as a character (the normal guy who keeps hanging around and pitching in while everyone else gets powerful), in reality he did a lot of fucking morally questionable shit and I'm not sure he really got fucked in the end.

He got his eye plucked out. But then again, I'm not sure what morally questionable shit you're accusing him of.
posted by crossoverman at 9:42 PM on December 17, 2013


I really liked that about him because that was me and I never get to see who I was as a teen in television or film. Those aspects of Oz were totally realistic to me.

Yeah, fair enough.

It's not that Oz *shouldn't* have been a slacker who did well on tests, and gotten through the day by getting high, and held off on being a horndog. I mean, to a certain extent (though to way less of extent than I wished at the time, I'm sure) that would have described me in high school, too, and scores and scores of other people. More than "chosen one" or "so trustworthy and smart literally teaches classes at her high school" would ever describe any actual kids, anyway.

Maybe it's that, unlike the other characters, all the little character things about Oz seemed more for affect or like he was supposed to come off to the audience in a very specific way, and it wasn't the character himself who was getting explored? I didn't pick up a manic pixie dreamguy vibe about him exactly, just more of a vibe like he was designed to play a particular role on the show and wasn't meant to be a character beyond that really? Serviceable but just a tool for the plot/other characters/who knows?

I don't know, it's not that I have a problem with the character, and I like Seth Green a lot. But I couldn't connect with Oz, despite not having any actual issue with the character and despite him getting a lot of screentime and storylines, but I'm not absolutely sure why, and it sounds like other people felt that way, too?
posted by rue72 at 9:48 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought Oz was a better character before we got to know him better.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 9:58 PM on December 17, 2013


He got his eye plucked out. But then again, I'm not sure what morally questionable shit you're accusing him of.

This thread and this thread, in addition to being good Buffy discussion, capture some the crap Xander did (couple of examples: tried to rape Buffy, then pretends he doesn't remember that; summoned the demon in OMWF because he thought it would somehow make people feel better, etc).

I'm generally sympathetic to Xander as a character because I liked what I saw as the potential of a normal character on a team of supernatural superheroes, but he did do some stuff that is really not ok. Maybe the eye balances that for you, but I'm not sure his karma ever really gets balanced.
posted by nubs at 10:39 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've said this before (and I just rewatched "Seeing Red" through "Grave" thanks to this thread) but I've only got one tiny quibble with the Season 6 finale but it's a change that would have taken it from great to nearly-perfect.

Anya teleports into the hole where Buffy and Dawn are stuck and tells them that nothing magical or supernatural can stop Willow by this point. Then the non-magical, crazy-natural Xander steps in and does his thing, which is baller and awesome and is the perfect ending to a season where the problem is that nobody trusts each other and everybody is drifting apart because nobody knows how to be an adult. And then Giles says that he came back with the borrowed power in the hopes that Willow would steal it from him and that it would tap into her humanity again.

Fine. But a lot of that is unnecessary and cheapens the best moments.

Cut the Giles explanation at the end. Entirely. We don't need it. And then change Anya's warning around, so that "only something or supreme supernatural or magical power could stop her now."

It makes Xander's choice to step in front of her, helpless and powerless except to just take her abuse and keep talking, that much more meaningful, and makes the fact that she stops not seem pre-determined. It also doesn't make a mockery of all of Giles' actions up 'til then.

Seriously, sci-fi/fantasy wroters. Understand dramatic magical realism, please. Not everything needs phlobotinum explanations. Some things make more sense without it.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:46 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's so weird to me. If anything, Oz is the definitional example of a certain kind of laid-back high school guy who's in a band. I went to high school with at least four guys like that. Maybe it's a regional thing?

Yeah, seconding this. Oz was basically a slightly Disneyfied version of a bunch of guys I knew (and found crushworthy, tbh) in high school. If anything, as a nerdy gay dude, Willow would have been my self-insert.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:08 PM on December 17, 2013


Also, due to a comment I made way up-thread, I will indeed go to the mat to defend Anya as the best Buffy character. I love all of these characters but Anya was the most electrifying (seriously no other character could draw your attention in any scene the same way) but also just the archetypal Journeyman. She constantly needs to have a concrete philosophy to cling to: vengeance, eternal love, capitalism, etc. And when those rugs get pulled out from under her in different ways she's confused and upset but moves on. She's never self-pitying in the same way that the others are, because she never feels shame about just putting herself out there to the others, which is, incidentally, what makes her monologue the most heart-wrenching part of "The Body."

I think it's silly to say, "I'll never forgive Joss for killing Wash," because Wash's death served a purpose that was very necessary to the story, and was given it's due, but I understand people being upset. For me, though, if I ever meet Joss, I'll give him hell for killing Anya, not because he did so, but because the manner in which he did it seemed like an afterthought, seemed spiteful (like he simply didn't like the character as much as the audience did and was weirdly bitter about it) and felt unprofessional (I'd be very surprised if off-camera issues with Emma Caulfield weren't involved.)
posted by Navelgazer at 11:15 PM on December 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Okay, confused here - what exactly are people referring to when they discuss Xander trying to rape Buffy? I don't know what that is referring to at all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:15 AM on December 18, 2013


Hyena episode. He tried to rape her when he was possessed by the hyena spirit and then pretend he didn't remember after the spirit was exorcised.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:36 AM on December 18, 2013


Well, no, he didn't. The hyena spirit attempted to rape Buffy, using Xander's body. This is like saying Angel killed Jenny Calendar.
posted by kafziel at 1:00 AM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Really?! As soon as he realized he was wolfing out and busted out those shackles that were somehow at his parents' house I thought he was creepy.

What do you think ever happened to little cousin Jordy?
posted by double bubble at 1:11 AM on December 18, 2013


I never actually saw the hyena episode either way, so that's why I was confused. I remembered Spike trying to rape her, but nothing about Xander.

The fact that I had to type that sentence suddenly made me feel a bit oogy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:24 AM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Buffy and Angel were always the two least interesting characters in Buffy and Angel.

Perhaps my favorite part of BtVS episode "The Zeppo," which follows Xander on his own adventure, is the Rosencrantz-and-Guildenstern-style inserts of Buffy/Angel scenes with all their high drama and turgid, tortured romance.

Lots of people think he's just NonManic Pixie Dream Boy

Oz doesn't fit the Adverb Pixie Dream Person archetype, because that archetype exists only to forward the goals of a protagonist. Oz, unlike other BtVS characters and indeed unlike most television characters, clearly and firmly establishes boundaries based on his emotional desires and needs (for example, previously). I love Oz for that, and I love the show for modeling that behavior as a positive aspect of a young character.
posted by Elsa at 5:31 AM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Navelgazer: I could not agree with you more about Anya's monologue in Body

It's so validating to hear that someone else feels that way!
posted by crush-onastick at 5:37 AM on December 18, 2013


Well, no, he didn't. The hyena spirit attempted to rape Buffy, using Xander's body. This is like saying Angel killed Jenny Calendar.

I think the broader lesson is that rape wasn't really an appropriate topic for Buffy in either plot. To make an understatement, rape is a much more painful and uncomfortable topic than, say, monsters gobbling people up.

Those plots are especially icky when both Hyena!Xander and Soulless!Spike suffer from magical ailments which mean that we can't judge Restored!Xander and Souled!Spike for those acts, in the same way that we can't judge Angel for the death of Jenny Calendar.

...

As for Xander in OMWF, I thought the "I summoned the demon so we could all have fun" was just supposed to have been the hanging of a massive lampshade on the fact that episode's central conceit was so contrived and silly. Not that OMWF isn't amazing and wonderful, of course.

Maybe they should have hung a different lampshade - just show some redshirt musical theater geek playing a record he finds in the trash, and that causes everything? who knows - but the point is, I can't take that bit seriously. It barely feels like a thing that Xander "really" did.

...

As for Oz, I feel the same about him as I do about Tara. They're really nice and pleasant, well cast and easy to watch. If they were real people, I would totally hang out with them.

But, as characters on Buffy, they were just sort of...there. For the other characters.

Buffy, Willow, et al. were more dynamic, because they had Goals that they Wanted to Achieve and they had Limitations that they needed to Overcome. They were the heroes.

Oz and Tara, though? They were the significant others. Like, when Tara died, my thoughts were with what was going to happen to Willow. Tara existed in Willow's universe, not the other way around.

Oz was a little different, though, in that he more clearly had an existence separate from everybody else's. It just wasn't an existence that had anything to do with the kind of stuff you would watch a TV show about.

Contrast with Tara. If she had left Willow and moved away, I don't know what her life would have looked like. It probably would have been very mature and well-considered, but it wouldn't have been a TV show unto itself.

Although, I do like the idea of a TV show about a warm, powerful witch who solves mysteries with benevolent magic and empathetic sangfroid. I would picture her life as being very droll and homey, except that evil keeps creeping in and she keeps rolling her eyes and zapping it back. I guess I'm basically describing her as the Fifth Doctor.

...

As for Kennedy, I really liked the casting, but her character was not handled well on a writing level. It seemed like she existed ONLY to fall in love with Willow, but only in a very safe and nice way. It also made things really weird that Willow got over Tara's death so easily, IIRC. (My memory of it was that it was very abruptly handled.)

It would have been better if they'd gone further with that idea. What if Kennedy had been really romantically aggressive, although not in a generally creepy or mean way? And then the arc between her and Willow would have been about Kennedy's happy, assertive casualness crashing on the rocky shores of Willow's confusion and grief. Kennedy would become more attached, the more that Willow would pull her in and push her back. Their arc could have reached season's end with Willow working some things out, and with the formerly carefree Kennedy now coming to the maturely bittersweet conclusion that her role in Willow's life actually need to be smaller than that of the still-dead Tara - and that current feelings of having been used, even if in this case for non-malicious purposes, may not be entirely dissimilar to how she may have treated some people in the past. The season could end with a "Lady or the Tiger?" moment where we don't know if Kennedy will come back.

This also could have led to hilarity if Kennedy had been visited by the First, disguised as Tara. Cue the jokes about meeting the ex.

Or, maybe better yet, show Kennedy meeting the actual deceased spirit of Tara. Meeting the ex, and coming to the bittersweet conclusion that, in another life, you might have been good friends. Maybe have Tara reveal to Willow that, since people don't have human form in the afterlife, Willow shouldn't feel bad at all about seeing somebody new in this life. Because it matters here, but it doesn't matter there. That could be bittersweet, too - you say you want to stay together forever, but what does that mean when everybody becomes a being a pure energy in the afterlife? Maybe you never get forever. All the more reason to treat each other well down here.

And then Tara could have "fought" at the climax in the form of a bad-ass poltergeist. (To be honest, I'm imagining the Electricity Gremlin from Gremlins 2.)

I dunno. I'm just thinking aloud here. My point is, with a character like Kennedy, there actually has to be an arc. Willow has to want something, Kennedy has to want something, and for drama to happen, there have to be obstacles.

The way that they dealt with it in Season Seven just felt uncharacteristically sloppy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:37 AM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oz doesn't fit the Adverb Pixie Dream Person archetype, because that archetype exists only to forward the goals of a protagonist.

Seconded. MPDG is not the same thing as an idealized character. To me, Oz always represented a certain late-nineties alt type girl's idea of a perfect guy. He was not a Pixie Dream Guy because his existence wasn't in service of another character's arc.

This has been my monthly plea to keep the definition of MPDG in tact.
posted by Think_Long at 5:45 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Navelgazer: I could not agree with you more about Anya's monologue in Body

It's so validating to hear that someone else feels that way!


I agree completely that Anya's monologue is a particularly potent rumination on death, all the more affecting for being so simple and naked.

Anya's presence throughout this episode presents such a great counterpoint: everyone else is moving along numbly through the mundane mechanisms surrounding death, but Anya comes from outside that human world. Anya spent centuries freed from the human realities of death and loss and love and attachment.

Suddenly she has to grapple with the harsh fact of mortality – of Joyce's mortality, and by extension, of her own mortality and that of those she loves. Her questions, which The Scoobies initially take as morbid or callous ("Are they going to cut the body open?"), but they reveal a huge gap in Anya's experience, the vast differences between the world where she was born a living, mortal woman and the world where she has again become one.

And then that monologue, that keening, banal despair that anyone who has lost a loved one could echo:
But I don't understand! I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's, there's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore! It's stupid! It's mortal and stupid! And, and Xander's crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why!
When my partner died, when my father died, those are the thoughts I had: he was here, and now his body is here but he is GONE, and he'll never smile or eat breakfast or laugh at a joke and I cannot believe that, not really, especially since no one can tell me why.

I saw "The Body," unspoiled, just a few weeks (a few days? I can't quite reckon out the timeline) after my father died, which was absolutely gut-punching. And good. Necessary, even. I'll never be objective about that episode.
posted by Elsa at 6:19 AM on December 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Although, I do like the idea of a TV show about a warm, powerful witch who solves mysteries with benevolent magic and empathetic sangfroid. I would picture her life as being very droll and homey, except that evil keeps creeping in and she keeps rolling her eyes and zapping it back."

What makes this version of Tara so interesting, though, is that we saw her grow to this version of herself from a very uncertain, timid, and insecure person who had almost no idea of her own agency as a product of an abusive childhood. I really like Tara's character arc and I cared a lot about her as a person. I think she was easily the best and most mature person on the show and she could have gone a different direction. She really grew into herself with Willow and the Scoobies.

"He was not a Pixie Dream Guy because his existence wasn't in service of another character's arc."

Although I think that Elsa's point about Oz setting boundaries is quite valid, I do think that it's not just that he was idealized, but that he was, in fact, mostly there to be a means for Willow to feel better about herself (which she couldn't have done if he'd not set boundaries and she'd grown in the context of being with someone who gave her a safe place to grow). I think that Oz was idealized in that way and totally was in service of meeting the emotional needs of another character.

And the thing is, that's pretty much a woman's version of the male fantasy MPDG. It's not so much about whirlwind-everything's-possible stuff that makes MPGD what it is, it's, well, all the things that women say when they're critical of the MPGD. It's a woman not as a person, but as a narcissistic fantasy machine for feeling better about oneself, and that's what a character like Oz provides for Willow. He was more realized as a character in large part simply by Seth Green's portrayal. He was only occasionally written with much depth or realization. He was Willow's fantasy (when she opened her eyes) and, by extension, an audience fantasy.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:26 AM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


To me, Oz always represented a certain late-nineties alt type girl's idea of a perfect guy.

Yeah, Oz made sense in the post-grunge 1990s, in a way that it seems like he doesn't 15 years later. In my head, he's in a continuum with the Breckin Meyer character in Clueless (and a bunch of other characters I could probably brainstorm.) A subculture guy with a passion/hobby who is genuine and likes you for yourself.

All these accusations of creepiness and scoffing at him being in a band seem like maybe they're coming from people who weren't teens in the 80s and 90s. Blah blah get off my lawn etc.

Giles/Anya was my favorite ship ever that I actually didn't care about but had fun promoting. By the end of the show, they were the only two characters I liked and it was nice to think they could find a little happiness with each other.

I'm not sure about the validity of the attempted rape accusations against Xader - I'd have to watch The Pack again, but realistically I was so obsessed with Buffy when it was airing, and so immersed in the fandom, that I still can't face re-watching it at this point. Too soon, too soon.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:26 AM on December 18, 2013


I'd have to watch The Pack again, but realistically I was so obsessed with Buffy when it was airing, and so immersed in the fandom, that I still can't face re-watching it at this point. Too soon, too soon.

Oh lord, yes. I think I'll have to wait until I'm dating someone who hasn't seen it and wants to.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:29 AM on December 18, 2013


But, as characters on Buffy, they were just sort of...there. For the other characters.

I’m constantly astounded by the number of people who seem to miss Tara’s character arc – honestly, hers seems to be the best realized character arc in season six (well, until her death). Tara’s not a loud character, not a funny character – but she’s a character that comes from an abusive family, and doesn’t have much self worth in season 4. She’s powerful, but she doesn’t really believe that she’s capable of doing anything worthwhile. She thinks she’s broken. But then she meets Willow, and she gets to do all these amazing things and learn that she can be a force for good in the world.

In the narrative of Tara’s story – from Tara’s point of view - Willow is her magic pixie dream girl (it’s definitely not the other way around). But then OMWF and Tabula Rasa happen, and it’s a wake-up call for her. Willow is her own, deeply flawed person, and Willow is capable of hurting her. Willow has hurt her, and is essentially manipulating Tara because Willow is so terrified of conflict.

So what does Tara do? She leaves. She respects herself enough to get the hell out of dodge, get out of this relationship, and be her own person. She’s gone from not having any self worth to having self worth that’s tied up in her relationship with Willow to being strong enough to be on her own, in a very organic way. And when Tara comes back, it’s a hesitant thing. She’s standing up for herself as an individual.

And then she dies. Because fuck you, Joss.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:35 AM on December 18, 2013 [24 favorites]


Oh lord, yes. I think I'll have to wait until I'm dating someone who hasn't seen it and wants to.

That's (almost) how I revisited it the first time. Some new acquaintances, one a longtime fan and one who'd never seen the show, recruited me and my partner (now husband) to watch it with them.

I still remember it so vividly. We'd only met at parties before this, so it was with a tiny bit of trepidation that we invited them over for several hours of dinner, cocktails, and the first disc of the the first season of Buffy. But we had a rollicking good time, and at the end of the evening when I thanked them for coming, one of our guests grabbed my arm enthusiastically and suggested we make the next Buffy night at their place two weeks hence. We agreed immediately and enthusiastically, waved goodbye from our porch, and shut the door.

And I turned to The Fella and said "I think they just asked us to go steady."

It worked, too: they're now among my very dearest friends. I can't claim that BtVS is responsible for that friendship, but it didn't hurt.
posted by Elsa at 6:39 AM on December 18, 2013


"All these accusations of creepiness and scoffing at him being in a band seem like maybe they're coming from people who weren't teens in the 80s and 90s."

The word used, I think, was "skeevy" and although I was pretty puzzled by rue72's argument, the undercurrent seemed to me to be that Oz's slacker nature and his drug use imply a "bad kid" in some sense, and I took a little bit of offense at that because I was like that and did a lot of disreputable things in high school, like leading the police in a high-speed car chase, but I treated other people well, I was well-liked by other students and teachers and parents. Insofar as I ever felt like I was somehow in a position to be a bad influence on someone, I made an effort to be a good influence.

I don't know rue72's age, but part of this seems to me to be the way that American adolescence has changed — much of that change had already happened by late 90s. We'd entered the era of regimented childhood with kids ferried to extracurricular activities by parents, with a huge emphasis on standardized tests and, it seems to me, a kind of polarization, either you were well-behaved kid who did well in school, or you were a bad kid who didn't. That's what the media narrative became. From the late 60s through the 80s, teen movies allowed for a lot wider range of behavior for teens without including some moralizing subtext.

I didn't watch the MTV version of Skins, but I watched the first three seasons of the original and I remember that there was a weird reaction from some other Americans, a kind of shock or just culture-shock that these teens were being portrayed doing the things they were doing. I don't know what they did on the American show, but it's hard for me to imagine an American show that allowed teens to be all sorts of people, including people who drink and do drugs and have sex and drop out of school, or even do most of those things but do well in school, without there being some sort of moralizing subtext that demonstrated that this was bad and they would come to a bad end. In some ways, our culture today is more like the 50s with regard to adolescence than it is the 80s, and I fucking hated the 80s.

But the UK Skins I really liked in that it was more like my adolescent experience than anything I see in American media.

I don't doubt that there were a lot of guys like Oz in the 90s. I mean, I don't know many people who had my experience, but there was some other things going on, my teachers worried about me and several of them way out of their way to find ways to engage my interest — I was disappointed in school in a way that made me angry, and occasionally when things caught my interest, I became academically a different person. But a lot of the rest of the time, I skipped and partied and came really close to dropping out. And it was a small high school. Anyway, the point is that although some aspects of my experience were unusual, it's never been the case that bright and pretty decent kids don't do badly in school and are slackers and drink and do drugs without somehow being, I don't know, gang members of something. There's always kids like that. But you wouldn't know it from American media and we're pretty inundated by messages that are very black-and-white about this stuff. I feel sorry for the kids who internalize those messages, or their parents have, or both.

"In the narrative of Tara’s story – from Tara’s point of view - Willow is her magic pixie dream girl (it’s definitely not the other way around). But then OMWF and Tabula Rasa happen, and it’s a wake-up call for her. Willow is her own, deeply flawed person, and Willow is capable of hurting her. Willow has hurt her, and is essentially manipulating Tara because Willow is so terrified of conflict. So what does Tara do? She leaves. She respects herself enough to get the hell out of dodge, get out of this relationship, and be her own person."

This. That was the best thing. You're so right about Willow being Tara's MPDG and both Tara and Willow grew up when they had to confront the fact that their relationship wasn't as healthy as they thought it was. And Tara, as you say, displays so much maturity and growth.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:51 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the narrative of Tara’s story – from Tara’s point of view - Willow is her magic pixie dream girl (it’s definitely not the other way around). But then OMWF and Tabula Rasa happen, and it’s a wake-up call for her. Willow is her own, deeply flawed person, and Willow is capable of hurting her. Willow has hurt her, and is essentially manipulating Tara because Willow is so terrified of conflict. So what does Tara do? She leaves. She respects herself enough to get the hell out of dodge, get out of this relationship, and be her own person.

I get this on an intellectual level, and it's a very good observation, but I think I didn't feel this story because the Willow-as-addict storyline was so goddamn goofy, and not necessarily for reasons that are Tara's fault. I wish I had seen this storyline handled better more generally.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:56 AM on December 18, 2013


The Willow-as-addict thing was terrible, but her manipulation of Tara's memory was, I think, independent of that. Willow saw it as her breaking her promise not to do magic, but that was the least of what she'd done wrong. I didn't get the impression that she'd done that because her personality was distorted by addiction, I got the impression that she'd have done that at any time when she was desperate to not lose Tara. Which was very revealing of Willow's character.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:03 AM on December 18, 2013


OH RIGHT! I had forgotten about the memory thing. That was the interesting part of that storyline. It cut more to the idea of why excessive and inappropriate use of magic would be a Bad Thing.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:05 AM on December 18, 2013


There's always kids like that. But you wouldn't know it from American media and we're pretty inundated by messages that are very black-and-white about this stuff. I feel sorry for the kids who internalize those messages, or their parents have, or both.

I think you're missing the whole Gossip Girl/Pretty Little Liars/Vampire Diaries genre where high schools kids schemin', sexin', never going to class and ever murdering people (not my fault! I'm a vampire!) are presented as aspirational lifestyle choices.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:08 AM on December 18, 2013


I liked ADAM :(

Then again, I'm a dork for Frankenstein, so even a ham-fisted ripoff of the same in the midst of a goofy season of underground military silliness still tickles me.

Also, Glory has the exact same voice as my therapist, and yeah, it's kinda weird.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:14 AM on December 18, 2013


If you fully commit to the worship of her perfection, you will never be unhappy again.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:19 AM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love Glory. I was barely aware that anybody didn't at least really like Glory.

The best part of Glory, however, was that cartoonishly savage sound the hammer makes against her head. Such as satisfying "CONK". That was some magnificent sound design and editing.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:19 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved that she was truly unstoppable. Drop a building on her? Maybe a chipped nail. Which will REALLY PISS HER OFF.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:20 AM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, one of the reasons why I’m so angry about the Willow-as-druggie storyline is that it was so unnecessary. The story of Willow believing that she needed to use magic or else she’s revert to her (in her mind) useless loser pre-Buffy self could have easily led to dark Willow on its own, and even the yellow crayon Xander save would have had more impact. And personally, I suspect that more Buffy watchers could associate a lot more with the lingering self-esteem and control issues from high school storyline a lot more than a hamfisted after school special treatment of drug abuse.

Not to mention that magic as addicting in the same way that drugs are addicting (as opposed to the way that power and control could be addicting) didn’t really make sense with the Buffyverse.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:25 AM on December 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


I actually just rewatched seasons 4-7 of Buffy (basically because of the Buzzfeed ranking of episodes linked here a few weeks back), and I have to say that I find A LOT really irritating about Zander, but I think the very worst thing he did was the way he treated Anya, and I think one of the worst things the writers did was basically absolve him from consequences.

I agree that Anya was one of the best characters on the show, but in Season 6 and 7 after she is left at the alter? The rest of the Scoobies are all -- oh, she went out of town, and then oh, well Zander didn't mean to and is sorry. (Although it seems like that repentence basically occurs off-screen? I didn't see much evidence of his regret in terms of his emotional reaction.) And I get that they were good friends with Zander, but in theory they were good friends with Anya too and I really came off feeling like she got really betrayed by everyone. And then Buffy wants to go kill her, and basically doesn't struggle with the decision much (except with proding from Zander who is all -- but wait, she is our friend?). And then Anya is basically left between the demons and human worlds, sad, and essentially dependent on her shitty human friends.

And the icing on the cake, for me, of the Zander-is-awful is the episode where Anya and Spike hook up. Zander's speech to Anya about how she is disgusting because she let Spike touch her is way over the top and awful, and watching it feels like a worse punishment for her character (doing something that is actually really normal and understandable to me, given her situation) than anything Zander experienced from leaving her at the alter. It was super misogynistic, and I didn't really see any evidence that the writers were self-aware of that.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:26 AM on December 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


The idea that Willow was using too much magic and in the wrong ways -- which predated the "actually, it's an addiction" really bad stuff -- came up early, and was in fact the reason Tara left her. (I too loved Tara's character arc.)

I think you're missing the whole Gossip Girl/Pretty Little Liars/Vampire Diaries genre where high schools kids schemin', sexin', never going to class and ever murdering people (not my fault! I'm a vampire!) are presented as aspirational lifestyle choices.

No, the difference is that the other kids were presented as possibly real people in a way that these shows aren't.
posted by jeather at 7:27 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll pile on the sentiment that the "magic addiction" storyline was not only profoundly bad but shockingly unnecessary. They just got done with a whole thing where we see Willow power-tripping on the ability to basically rewrite reality on a whim, and then whoops, that might have been too subtle, here's a magic crackhouse.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:39 AM on December 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


A LOT really irritating about Zander,

It's Xander.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:47 AM on December 18, 2013


Also! Willow choosing to use magic irresponsibly to cover up the fact that she feels like she’s essentially unlovable fits a lot better with the Trio as Big Bad than Willow as out of control drug addict does.

Ugh. It’s been years, and I’m still this irritated.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:50 AM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, the difference is that the other kids were presented as possibly real people in a way that these shows aren't.

Which other kids?
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2013


Why are there even magical crack houses? The show has lead me to believe that magic users are actually kind of rare and Willow is special because of this otherwise why wouldn't we be buying spells at Walmart?
posted by The Whelk at 9:05 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why wouldn't we be buying spells at Walmart?

I'm boycotting Walmart because of the way they mistreat their demons.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:19 AM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess Sunnydale's Hellmouth-adjacency would tend to attract spellcasters no matter how rare they are overall. Kinda like you shouldn't use Israel as a way to estimate the percentage of the global population that's Jewish.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:19 AM on December 18, 2013


This also could have led to hilarity if Kennedy had been visited by the First, disguised as Tara. Cue the jokes about meeting the ex.

I don't know the full story on this, but in Season 7's "Conversations With Dead People," The First was supposed to be impersonating Tara, and not the (pretty damned awesome, actually) blonde girl who had died earlier in the season, but Amber Benson wouldn't do it.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:08 AM on December 18, 2013


There's also the theory that the reason that Willow is magical is because she is a missing child from the Weasley family. I read a poorly written fan fic detailing the family reunion. The only good part was Buffy wandering down Knockturn Alley. running into Draco, Crabb and Goyle, and them trying to cast spells on her. Spells don't work on slayers and she beats the living shit out of them.
posted by Ber at 10:22 AM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


but Amber Benson wouldn't do it.

Really? I wonder why?
posted by DarkForest at 10:24 AM on December 18, 2013


Amber Benson refused to come back as evil because she thought it was unfair to the character and the fans.
posted by jeather at 10:29 AM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Robia la Morte also refused to play The First in season 7, but in her case it was because she'd become Born Again and refused to play a character that was effectively Satan.

The show has lead me to believe that magic users are actually kind of rare and Willow is special because of this otherwise why wouldn't we be buying spells at Walmart?

I love how the college Wiccan group responds to Willow the same way a real college Wiccan group would respond to somebody who shows up to a meeting and starts babbling about spells all the time, and yet this is in a world where magic is absolutely, demonstrably real.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:41 AM on December 18, 2013


Also, around that time in the show, they all hung out in an actual magic shop that Giles owned and operated.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:50 AM on December 18, 2013


"Hey, guys, remember when the mayor of our town turned into a giant demon and ate people? Anybody?"
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:53 AM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe the mayor just ate all the witnesses.
posted by The Whelk at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2013


and yet this is in a world where magic is absolutely, demonstrably real.

....I'm not so sure about that - I got the sense that everyone else outside Buffy's Inner Circle was either unaware or in denial about it all. Yeah, Sunnydale had a high body count and weird shit went down, but I was getting this "oh it must have been wild animals/hallucinations/kids on drugs/etc. that did it" vibe from most other Sunndaleians, so they may not have been as prone to believe "magic is real" in the same way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2013


For me, though, if I ever meet Joss, I'll give him hell for killing Anya, not because he did so, but because the manner in which he did it seemed like an afterthought, seemed spiteful (like he simply didn't like the character as much as the audience did and was weirdly bitter about it) and felt unprofessional (I'd be very surprised if off-camera issues with Emma Caulfield weren't involved.)

I swear I've seen this in an interview somewhere--maybe it was her episode of the Nerdist podcast?--but Caulfield had told Whedon that she was ready to leave the show at the end of Season 7 regardless of whether it continued for another, and I think actually said "kill me off or whatever." The show ended, but he took her up on it anyway.
posted by psoas at 11:01 AM on December 18, 2013


Plus, the college Wicca group could be made up of transplants who weren't around for the shockingly frequent " gas leaks" the town has.
posted by The Whelk at 11:01 AM on December 18, 2013


I got the sense that everyone else outside Buffy's Inner Circle was either unaware or in denial about it all.

It was shown several times that the Mayor and his presumably well-picked administration spent a lot of effort "explaining" away the supernatural things.

Now that I think of it, I really wish they'd taken time in S3 to show him doing this more obviously: a day in the life of the Mayor, merrily spinning away the vampires and demons and explosions and suchlike.
posted by Etrigan at 11:03 AM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always wanted an episode that revolved around the Sunnydale EMTs, who KNOW EVERYTHING but what good does that do them?
posted by The Whelk at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe the mayor just ate all the witnesses.


Well, not for lack of trying- you would not believe the indigestion I had! Talk about your eyes being bigger than your stomach!
posted by Mayor Wilkins at 11:12 AM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


They actually missed a chance to do at least a scene with that premise in Graduation Day. Angel drinks Buffy's blood to cure the Vampire Poison that Faith shot him up with, then rushes her to the hospital for a transfusion. The doctors are clearly not buying the explanation that "something bit her," and they ask him to his face....if they were doing drugs. Sad trombone.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:13 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always wanted an episode that revolved around the Sunnydale EMTs, who KNOW EVERYTHING but what good does that do them?

"This is Ambulance 3C. I just saw that blonde girl running down Oak toward Roosevelt."
"You following her?"
"Of course I am, duh. I'm just calling because she looked pretty freaked out, so I thought you might want to send someone to check where she came from-- oh, never mind, she's fighting a big elephant-thing at the park. I'll just wait here."
"Thanks, 3C, I'll let everyone know. ALL HANDS: Did anyone have 'elephant' and 'Roosevelt Park' in tonight's pool?"
"WOO HOO!"
posted by Etrigan at 11:16 AM on December 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


Now that I think of it, I really wish they'd taken time in S3 to show him doing this more obviously: a day in the life of the Mayor, merrily spinning away the vampires and demons and explosions and suchlike.

So basically "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man" but for Mayor Wilkins? That sounds pretty great.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:17 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now that I think of it, I really wish they'd taken time in S3 to show him doing this more obviously: a day in the life of the Mayor, merrily spinning away the vampires and demons and explosions and suchlike.


Way less interesting than you'd think. Mostly red tape, and the occasional mall opening or re-consecration. Of course, you know how it is- 90% perspiration!
posted by Mayor Wilkins at 11:18 AM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Thanks, 3C, I'll let everyone know. ALL HANDS: Did anyone have 'elephant' and 'Roosevelt Park' in tonight's pool?"

We should write this episode, or fic, or pilot for a new series or something.
posted by The Whelk at 11:27 AM on December 18, 2013


EMERGENCY! Sunnydale
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:28 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that Anya was one of the best characters on the show, but in Season 6 and 7 after she is left at the alter? The rest of the Scoobies are all -- oh, she went out of town, and then oh, well Zander didn't mean to and is sorry. (Although it seems like that repentence basically occurs off-screen? I didn't see much evidence of his regret in terms of his emotional reaction.) And I get that they were good friends with Zander, but in theory they were good friends with Anya too and I really came off feeling like she got really betrayed by everyone.

I remember this being a bit more complicated. After the wedding, Anya wants to be left alone. Then when Anya comes back she's a vengeance demon, and she's trying to manipulate all of their friends to make a wish so that Xander is tortured/maimed in some horrible fashion. The "he feels really bad" is in response to Anya's efforts to get them to wish some awful fate on him. They're glad to see her--Willow hugs her--but they don't want to wish bad things for Xander in the way that she'd like.

The really screwed-up thing is that Anya spends most of the episode trying to trick their friends into doing something terrible to Xander, and Xander goes off on her, not for any of that, but for sleeping with Spike (which I don't think was wrong at all). I can't decide if it's the character or the writing, but something feels very misogynistic about that.
posted by creepygirl at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2013


CSI: Sunnydale
"Judging from the debris in this pile of ash, this vampire ate a lot of office supplies."
"Are you sure that someone didn't just dump out their vacuum cleaner here?"
"... Dammit."
posted by Etrigan at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


The really screwed-up thing is that Anya spends most of the episode trying to trick their friends into doing something terrible to Xander, and Xander goes off on her, not for any of that, but for sleeping with Spike (which I don't think was wrong at all). I can't decide if it's the character or the writing, but something feels very misogynistic about that.

Huh. This is all even more complicated for me. I think Xander goes off on her sleeping with Spike because he's grasping for any kind of high ground in that scene. We'd already seen that he understood why she did that, and was more hurt about Spike and Buffy. When he brings that up to her he's in a crazy self-loathing place (blaming himself for Tara and Buffy getting shot) and it's the closest thing to "ammo" that he has there. It's still shitty of him, but I don't think we're ever meant to think he's right.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:40 AM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


The word used, I think, was "skeevy" and although I was pretty puzzled by rue72's argument, the undercurrent seemed to me to be that Oz's slacker nature and his drug use imply a "bad kid" in some sense, and I took a little bit of offense at that because I was like that and did a lot of disreputable things in high school, like leading the police in a high-speed car chase, but I treated other people well, I was well-liked by other students and teachers and parents. Insofar as I ever felt like I was somehow in a position to be a bad influence on someone, I made an effort to be a good influence.

I didn't mean to offend you, I'm sorry! I was actually wondering why Oz wasn't *more* of a scumbag than he was on the show, not less. Not because he was so bad or his behavior was so terrible, but because being a slacker with bad grades and a band *is* totally normal, and for some reason the show decided that they had to Disney-fy that anyway. I don't even mean that his behavior was normal within the realm of real life, either -- even within the show, virtually every character had *some* darkness or sadness or even just unflattering character traits going on, yet the show was careful to keep even that amount of dirt off Oz in particular.

The most "dangerous" or "bad" thing about Oz was that he was a stoner maybe headed for a GED, which, come on, Buffy's bf/ex gleefully tortured entire families to death, I really don't think Oz could possibly have competed for "DTMF" status in that milieu even if they had pulled out all the stops to show his slackerdom in the worst possible light. But unlike with Angel, the farthest the show would go in exploring any not especially ~dreamy traits or feelings of Oz's was to sort of hint around that they were there even while making dead sure they never showed up onscreen; Oz couldn't even actually be pushy with Willow sometimes, or actually be a stoner, for example. And, also in comparison, just a couple seasons down the line, Willow herself was mind-whammying her girlfriend and doing magic!crack. So it's not as though they were too scared to let Willow get dark, they just didn't want her love interests to get dark for some reason?

And I actually felt that they did do the same thing with Tara. I "liked" Tara OK, just like I'd "liked" Oz, they were both fine characters in theory, and their arcs were fine, and the actors were great -- but I had trouble connected with them because it was like they were seen from behind a vaselined lens or something. I don't really know why they held back from being at least as "gritty" in their handling of those characters as they were with all the rest? All I can think is it's something to do with wanting to be very gentle in how they pair off Willow. Though they put her through a fair amount of hell in terms of her romantic life otherwise, so...*shrug* I don't get it.

But yeah, I was trying to say that I wish they'd at least have risen up to Hyde/"That 70s Show"-level of grit when it came to Oz's character, which isn't exactly Cinéma vérité itself, because I think it would have made the character more interesting and easier to connect to, and also because he probably would have fit in better with the rest of the characters and not have seemed like Willow's Prop or whatever. Though maybe they were trying to do something with the character that I'm not getting, that would have been ruined by even that amount of grittiness? I don't know.
posted by rue72 at 11:44 AM on December 18, 2013


Oz's darkness was his lycanthropy, just like Angel's darkness was his soulless vampire side, while his normal soul-having self was Blandy McStudmuffin.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:49 AM on December 18, 2013


The most "dangerous" or "bad" thing about Oz was that he was a stoner maybe headed for a GED, which, come on, Buffy's bf/ex gleefully tortured entire families to death, I really don't think Oz could possibly have competed for "DTMF" status in that milieu even if they had pulled out all the stops to show his slackerdom in the worst possible light.

Yeah, but in a show about high school, being headed for a GED is a pretty bad thing in and of itself.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:50 AM on December 18, 2013


"So it's not as though they were too scared to let Willow get dark, they just didn't want her love interests to get dark for some reason?"

You're right about this and I see what you've been getting at. I agree with it and I think it's because, as I wrote before, Oz really wasn't fully realized as a characters, he existed to be the perfect boyfriend (and that he was a slacker was actually part of it relative to Willow's high-achieving nature — Oz was about balancing her).

I don't agree about Tara, though, because she really wasn't so idealized when we first meet her, she was annoyingly timid and insecure. Should she have some "darkness"? Well, I think lots and lots of people have some darkness in them, but not everyone. I mean, everyone has a capacity for evil in the right circumstances, but some people just are not mean-spirited at all and it really takes very unusual circumstances to ever see that in them. Tara is just a gentle and good-natured person. I've known people like her. She wasn't idealized, because she really was a different person when we first meet her. She was never "dark", sure, but she was far from perfect. She grew into being the likable and admirable person she eventually became.

And then she was killed.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:53 AM on December 18, 2013


1 Adam Hell

Two Demons roll out of the hellmouth, sent to protect and serve the hellions who make their home in Precinct Sunnydale. They drive a Mercury Montego with a portable siren. Their angry african-american chief is Satan.
posted by Think_Long at 12:00 PM on December 18, 2013


I think Xander goes off on her sleeping with Spike because he's grasping for any kind of high ground in that scene. We'd already seen that he understood why she did that, and was more hurt about Spike and Buffy. When he brings that up to her he's in a crazy self-loathing place (blaming himself for Tara and Buffy getting shot) and it's the closest thing to "ammo" that he has there. It's still shitty of him, but I don't think we're ever meant to think he's right.

I can't tell if we're talking about the same scene. I'm talking about the bit in Entropy after Anya and Spike are inadvertantly broadcast on the Trio's spy cameras. Xander rushes over with an axe to try to kill Spike. No one's been shot yet.

ANYA: Xander, I...
XANDER: (panting) Don't even try to deny it. 'Cause I saw it all. The whole beautiful show.
ANYA: How...?

Xander glares angrily at her.

ANYA: It was just, it ... it was just a thing. I ... I felt bad, and he was just ... there.
BUFFY: (to Spike) Didn't take long, did it? (Spike looking sourly at her)
XANDER: (still yelling at Anya) Oh, oh, oh, okay! You had to do it. Because he was there. Like Mt. Everest. (upset) Like I used to be.
ANYA: (angry) And then you weren't. You left *me,* Xander. At the altar. (yelling) I don't owe you anything.
XANDER: So you go out and bang the first body you can find? Dead or alive?
ANYA: Where do you get off judging me?!
XANDER: When this is your solution to our problems. I hurt you, and you hit me back? Very mature.
ANYA: No, the mature solution is for you to spend your whole life telling stupid, pointless jokes, so that no one will notice that you are just a scared, insecure little boy!
XANDER: (bitterly) I'm not joking now. You let that evil, soulless thing touch you. (pointing at Spike) You wanted me to feel something? (Anya looking chagrined) Congratulations, it worked.

Anya stares at him, looks like she might cry again.

XANDER: I look at you ... and I feel sick. 'Cause you had sex with that. (points at Spike again)
posted by creepygirl at 12:06 PM on December 18, 2013


Yeah, we were talking about different scenes. I still don't feel like we're supposed to be with Xander at that moment, though.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:08 PM on December 18, 2013


I don't agree about Tara, though, because she really wasn't so idealized when we first meet her, she was annoyingly timid and insecure. Should she have some "darkness"? Well, I think lots and lots of people have some darkness in them, but not everyone. I mean, everyone has a capacity for evil in the right circumstances, but some people just are not mean-spirited at all and it really takes very unusual circumstances to ever see that in them. Tara is just a gentle and good-natured person. I've known people like her. She wasn't idealized, because she really was a different person when we first meet her. She was never "dark", sure, but she was far from perfect. She grew into being the likable and admirable person she eventually became.

I don't know, she was pretty perfect. This is a woman who set up visitation so she could continue to see her ex's roommate's kid sister after the break up. Nobody does that.

Like I said, I liked Tara OK, I just think she could have been a more fully realized character. Not that she had to be a jerk or anything, but like Oz, she was so perfect for Willow that it felt to me like she was tailor-made for Willow. Which she was, I guess, but characters aren't supposed to feel like that.

Plus, I just don't get the point, since they didn't pull the same kind of punches with Willow herself as they did with her SOs.

Though I was also fine with the crack!magic idea, so maybe my taste in Willow's storylines just isn't in step with most people's. I thought that in order for Willow to be able to go very dark at the end of the season, especially seeing as just the season before she was pretty put-together and raising Buffy from the dead, she had to be made a little unstable first. I'm not sure what better option they had to destabilize her at that point?

XANDER: I look at you ... and I feel sick. 'Cause you had sex with that. (points at Spike again)

Once again, I have to think, "what would the demon do" because Anya was a lot less hotheaded about this nastiness than I would have been.
posted by rue72 at 12:34 PM on December 18, 2013


I was so angry about Xander stranding Anya at the altar. I mean, for me, that was unforgivable. As an audience member, I just couldn't forgive Xander for it and I pretty much actively disliked him afterwards.

Ironic with all the death and destruction going on. But Xander really was pretty much like the noxious Nice Guy because, when it came right down to it, he was very selfish. He seemed like he was kind and considerate, and of course he was sometimes, but he spent a lot of time mired in his own issues and needs and not really seeing his friends as who they really are, as opposed to what he needed them to be. I don't think he ever appreciated Anya very much, he didn't really know or want to know about her life before they met, and many of the problems they had were because he was lost in his anxieties and his own issues. The wedding was the culmination of that behavior.

And so that scene that creepygirl quotes above is really ugly, but it's also the Xander that's been under the surface all along. Now that he's hurt and confused but feels guilty, he goes to the most hurtful place he can find to strike out at Anya, who he's already badly hurt. He could only believe that Anya did it to hurt him because he really didn't know her that well in the first place. It's ugly and it's typical and it shows that Xander was very far from the person that he thought he was.

What's interesting is that the writers explored this — it was a kind of aberration. Maybe that was Noxon's influence, she saw who Xander really was. Or, rather, she saw who the male writers were writing Xander to be, as part of their idea of the "nice guy" and all their similar issues surrounding that male self-conception that the writers themselves were not self-aware enough to recognize. But, beside that brief exploration, we went back to the funny nice-guy routine with Xander and we're clearly supposed to adore him.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:40 PM on December 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is a woman who set up visitation so she could continue to see her ex's roommate's kid sister after the break up. Nobody does that.

Her mother had died too, and she had been acting as a mother for Dawn when Buffy was dead (and really before that). I think that it was totally in character that she didn't desert Dawn.
posted by jeather at 12:45 PM on December 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


A 19-year-old who's wrapped up in their own issues and kind of selfish? Clearly, this person is a monster!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:48 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much more (?) empathy people would have for Xander's later-season assholery if he wasn't very, very clearly a 30-year-old man.
posted by griphus at 12:56 PM on December 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


At any given time, at least one of them was monstrous, and over the course of the show, each major character had their monstrous side exposed. For me, at least, that was one of the strengths of the show. That each personality had its own specific worst self. Tara was maybe the one exception.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:57 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Probably not that much more because shitty behavior is shitty behavior, but my disbelief was having some real trouble suspending itself during the wedding scene wherein at least one of the two people at the altar is supposed to be a kid fresh out of high school and not, like, your average adult.

For that matter, was Anya supposed to look teenage as well?)
posted by griphus at 1:02 PM on December 18, 2013


This is one heck of a show to inspire so much passion in its fans so many years after the show ended.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:06 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


For that matter, was Anya supposed to look teenage as well?

As much as the others were, yes.

(For me, the worst was Cordelia -- Charisma Carpenter's apparent age went from 19 to 30 within the first two seasons of Angel. Every time we were reminded that she was supposed to be 20ish, it threw me right off.)
posted by Etrigan at 1:10 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, if we're having this conversation, let's not forget how, as the seasons wore on, Slab McChunk got a bit McChunky for an unageing vampire.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:16 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, Xander had pretty shitty role models -- his family was fucked up, and his friends didn't seem to actually care about him.
posted by amarynth at 1:19 PM on December 18, 2013


Oh, if we're having this conversation, let's not forget how, as the seasons wore on, Slab McChunk got a bit McChunky for an unageing vampire.

Nonsense. He wore that trenchcoat all the time because it's so cold... in... Los Angeles. Um... cold for vampires, that is. Because of El Nino.
posted by Etrigan at 1:24 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is one heck of a show to inspire so much passion in its fans so many years after the show ended.

I've told this story on MeFi like ten times, but back around 2008, I worked a few doors down from the IFC movie theater in the West Village. The two biggest lines I had ever seen were, first, a line about half a block long for Crispin Glover's new movie and a Q+A with him afterward.

The biggest line was for a singalong showing of "Once More With Feeling." The line was at least twice as long, stretching around the corner of the block.
posted by griphus at 1:25 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Her mother had died too, and she had been acting as a mother for Dawn when Buffy was dead (and really before that). I think that it was totally in character that she didn't desert Dawn.

Fair enough. It's completely possible that I just never connected to that character personally, and a lot of her development just went over my head.

And so that scene that creepygirl quotes above is really ugly, but it's also the Xander that's been under the surface all along. Now that he's hurt and confused but feels guilty, he goes to the most hurtful place he can find to strike out at Anya, who he's already badly hurt. He could only believe that Anya did it to hurt him because he really didn't know her that well in the first place. It's ugly and it's typical and it shows that Xander was very far from the person that he thought he was.

I don't think Xander had so many illusions about himself, did he? To me, he seemed like a bitter, angry person who had a "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member" complex going on, and I thought that was pretty actively communicated to the audience by the show from the very beginning, what with how he kept ditching and dismissing Willow and salivated over Buffy. The show gets explicit about that in "The Pack," even having Giles call out Xander's "memory loss" as fake once Buffy and Willow are gone, and that's the very first Xander-centric episode. The show didn't have to have Xander telling people he's a loser all the time, or being pathologically jealous of basically any guy, or living in horrible basement that none of them hung out in ever except that one time while his parents were fighting upstairs -- those were all choices the show made to tell us who the character was. I think the character was meant to be pretty screwed up and depressing, but had fallen in with some good people and was trying his best not to be an asshole.

Considering that Warren's misogyny was what pushed him up to villain status, according to this interview, it's actually pretty incredible to me how weird about women they chose to make Xander. I don't really get the choice, and it did make me hate the character quite a bit, but it really seems to have been an active choice on their part. Why did they go in that direction, actually?

Anyway, I think the anomalies in characterization were when the show tried to go with "Adorable Xander!" or assumed that we were on his side -- but there was a whole long string of that in the middle seasons, and that did drown out the more self-aware characterization to a certain extent, at least for me.

But then, yeah, I think they salvaged that, in a certain sense, by having Xander treat Anya so badly, mostly because they gave Anya's devastation of his treatment some due. I liked watching Xander and Anya as a couple altogether, though, because I liked watching how confused and aggravated and desperate Anya was when she felt herself falling for Xander, and how she was a sucker for him against all her rational judgment and good sense. And Anya knew she was being a sucker and that he was going to tear her apart but couldn't stop herself, and Xander basically knew it, too (I think that's what the pre-wedding jitters visit from his "future self" was supposed to be about), but couldn't stop himself, either...

But see, how weird is the comparison between that, and the soft-focus going on in so much of Willow's love life?
posted by rue72 at 1:41 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The biggest line was for a singalong showing of 'Once More With Feeling.' The line was at least twice as long, stretching around the corner of the block."

That would be my favoritest thing ever. I wonder if Alamo Drafthouse has done this? There's one here in Kansas City now. (Which is really weird to me because I lived in Austin when it first opened. There's not many things more "Austin" to me than Alamo Drafthouse. It's pretty cool here; I've not gone to any of their events, yet, though.)
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:52 PM on December 18, 2013


Nonsense. He wore that trenchcoat all the time because it's so cold... in... Los Angeles. Um... cold for vampires, that is. Because of El Nino.

The great thing about being a walking corpse is that you can dress however you want and you'll be just as comfortable in shorts in a snowstorm as in a parka during a heatwave, apparently.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:20 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's the failure rate on magic? Any really horribly consequences? Cause, yeah I know Willow is an exceptionally smart and dedicated student and we obviously see other ritual magic users who are implied to be at high level of skill due to age and training, but if magic exists, does things, and can be a learned skill, why isn't everyone using magic or everything? I'm only kind of kidding with the Walmart idea - there where these token gestures to "no using magic is dangerous" but I never really bought it. Magic can be horribly misused of course, which I thought the forgetting spell subplot was great, but never bought Tara's insistence that " just cast a spell" was a bad thing.....

( Like you could go many different ways with that, and it's irritating that there is a minuscule amount of it in the actual show- Willow should be becoming more and more haughty, arrogant, more removed from everyday concerns, we the audience need to see that her former asset: being skilled in magic, is now turning her into a very different person, into someone you should be SCARED of. The fact that it just got shoved into Magic Crack Is Whack is still irritating.)
posted by The Whelk at 3:22 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cause, yeah I know Willow is an exceptionally smart and dedicated student and we obviously see other ritual magic users who are implied to be at high level of skill due to age and training, but if magic exists, does things, and can be a learned skill, why isn't everyone using magic or everything?

I always assumed there was some level of inherent magical ability which some people had and some people didn't.

Also,

What's the failure rate on magic? Any really horribly consequences?

How could you forget poor Amy the Rat?
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:27 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the direction they were going with it was fine - not so much haughty and godlike as cavalier and on a power trip. Willow's corruption wasn't ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR but "You're my friend and you're sad and I want to fix that, so I will pluck the sadness out of your brain without asking since that's obviously the best solution and I'm a helper." That's pretty damned terrifying on its own.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:29 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Amy's ratification ( oh I crack myself up) was a desperate last second ploy to avoid being burned to death- the only reason she didn't come back sooner is cause people kinda...forgot about her.

Yeah like, the seeds are there, this is totally a "reasonable, understandable first steps down the path of super villainy"thing, which I love cause bad guys never think they're the bad guys and I did kinda want to see Willow get her hands dirty more and maybe foreshadow the possibly of an ALL SHALL LOVE ME moment later but then, yeah Magic Crack!
posted by The Whelk at 3:33 PM on December 18, 2013


Oh god I just thought about how you could Retcon everything strange in the whole series to being somehow related to the Maganment of The Bronze trying to maintain the perfect monster/victim honeypot AND turn a profit.
posted by The Whelk at 3:44 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whatever restaurant group The Bronze is owned by could surely be managed by Wolfram & Hart.
posted by maryr at 3:46 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


YESSSSS
posted by The Whelk at 3:48 PM on December 18, 2013


What's the failure rate on magic? Any really horribly consequences? Cause, yeah I know Willow is an exceptionally smart and dedicated student and we obviously see other ritual magic users who are implied to be at high level of skill due to age and training, but if magic exists, does things, and can be a learned skill, why isn't everyone using magic or everything?

I remember being in middle school and for some reason the library had all these books from the 70's about PSYCHIC POWER and so on, stuff whose Dewey Decimal number was between 130 and 139.999. One of the recurring themes, in like every one of these books, was that mainstream acceptance of psychic ability was ever-increasing and that psi was "the coming technology of the 80's and 90's!" and so on. Gullible little me was pretty enthralled by all this until it occurred to me that if all this was true, there'd be classes in it, you'd be able to major in it, and society would practically be run around it. And thus ended my belief in psychic abilities.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:50 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah like, the seeds are there, this is totally a "reasonable, understandable first steps down the path of super villainy"thing, which I love cause bad guys never think they're the bad guys and I did kinda want to see Willow get her hands dirty more and maybe foreshadow the possibly of an ALL SHALL LOVE ME moment later but then, yeah Magic Crack!

What did Willow really want at the time that she didn't have? She basically was just obsessing over Tara, as far as I can remember...so Willow did screw with Tara's mind to keep her happy and then killed Warran/went crazy to avenge her death, and both those things did have consequences. But Tara was pretty low-maintenance otherwise, so I'm not really sure what else trying to make her happy/help her could have compelled Willow to do, or what else could have spiraled out of control? And I'm not sure who or what else Willow really cared about at that point?

On a show like this, where you can't really bring back the dead or heal people, and magic's not all that much use in terms of getting the kind of human relationships you want or to directly compel people's behavior that easily...I feel like the only way that magic could really be useful is if you somehow used it in place of money.

Which...I don't know, if you have to buy the magic supplies anyway, what's the point of that (unless you're already somehow really involved in magic or have enemies who are)?

I think maybe it would have been better if Willow did have big ambitions, but magic wasn't necessarily useful in achieving them (they sort of did that with her trying to prop up her failing relationship with Tara using the mind-wipes), because that might have kept the magic limited without seeming, I don't know, banal, like the magic!crack did.

Gullible little me was pretty enthralled by all this until it occurred to me that if all this was true, there'd be classes in it, you'd be able to major in it, and society would practically be run around it. And thus ended my belief in psychic abilities.

"the finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist"
posted by rue72 at 3:52 PM on December 18, 2013


Oh, I had this entire headcannon worked out where Buffy and Harry Potter took place in the same universe, only the American system was more distributed and secretive due to Salem and so on, and therefore Muggle-borns would frequently go uncontacted and uneducated in magic, and Willow was Muggle-born, and oh god I was such a nerd
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:53 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm with rue72 in being okay with Willow's Magic Bender.It was super on-the-nose, but on-the-nose parables are Buffy's bread and butter, and this one fit perfectly into Willow's arc, for me. Especially as regards Tara.

Think:

1. Willow and Tara meet during the college wiccan club meeting in "Hush," where Willow is mocked for bringing up actual witchcraft and Tara is too shy and lacking in confidence to back her up.

2. Tara nuzzles up to Willow like a puppy; Tara is scared, shy and completely unsure of herself, while Willow, who used to be those things, is now confident and assured. Willow loves the affirmation and adoration from Tara, and Tara loves the acceptance from Willow. They quickly learn that they are both capable of magic.

3. The relationship develops into a pretty healthy space of mutual respect and affection. Willow understands that she is sexually attracted to Tara and is cool with that. When Oz returns, Willow knows for sure where her head and heart are, and Oz understands as well (because Oz is always understanding).

4. As Willow and Tara explore their powers, Willow always seems a bit more jazzed on the concept of using magic itself than on whatever result they're going for.

5. Willow uses magic to obliviate Tara's memory of them fighting.

6. Tara learns this and decides to leave.

7. Willow agrees to stop, and immediately uses magic again, in an attempt to obliviate Tara again.

8. Tara leaves.

Basically, Tara matured where Willow didn't. Because Willow didn't have to. Tara's adoration of Willow at the start of their relationship set the politics for them, and from that point forward Willow, who had always been the responsible one, didn't have to be anymore. No wonder she felt so light and free - Tara was carrying all the weight and happy to do so. And when Tara leaves, Willow is still the person she was at the start, but now heartbroken, worthless-feeling, and much more magically powerful. You ever seen an alcoholic after a break-up? Especially one where alcohol abuse was the crux of the matter? The post-break-up bender, especially with an enabler like Amy is here, is a bruiser.

Yes, it was obvious. But the beats totally work and I'm willing to give them over to magic instead of another addiction because this is the universe we're in.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:56 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, the treatment of magic on the show as it progressed was one of the things that bugged me as much as how Willow's growing reliance on magic turned from nuanced and interesting into Magic Crack Den in, like, an episode.

In earlier seasons, magic takes effort. You need the words, you need the ingredients, you need the power, and it goes wrong just as often as it goes right. Just reading from a book won't do it, nor will a Bewitched-style nose twinkle; you need the right accoutrements as well as the desire.

But by the time Willow and Amy go all magic-nuts, they're Sabrina the Teenage Witches, transforming everyone in the Bronze with a little flick of their fingers. They took away the rules and risks for the sake of narrative convenience, and this was part of what made the show increasingly lop-sided.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:56 PM on December 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


I suddenly want Willow going through Lev Grossman's safe houses, like in The Magician King.

I do think that the idea of power for power's sake is way more compelling than power-as-addiction.
posted by dogheart at 4:33 PM on December 20, 2013


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