Feb 25 2013 2:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Snakes and Shadows

Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatch Shadows

“Shadow” opens with the grim spectre of Joyce getting a CAT scan while her daughters wait for news and contemplate the many frightening possibilities. Dawn tries to distract herself with some whimsical wonderings about who put the cat in the scanner, and what I notice most here is that there’s no doubt that Buffy loves her, even now that she knows the truth. Somehow, that makes this all easier to take.

Back at the Boogety Box, the new phone books are in! Giles has taken out an ad in the Yellow Pages—today he’d be asking us to like the store’s Facebook page! He’s hoping to drum up some non-demonic, cash-paying customers. It’s all chatty, beginning-of-the-workday stuff, with Anya wondering why she isn’t featured in said ad while Xander kvetches about how Riley caught a bad case of the recklesses and killed off that nest of vampires solo. All that’s missing is an official Scooby Gang water cooler.

Dreg, Glory’s named minion, has also made an appearance in the story. He’s offering her creamy coolness a key-finding spell. (Seriously. He says that. And I’ve been saying it to my wife for a week now.) I’m happy to see Dreg—scabby though he is, I like him. Maybe it’s the devotion.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatch Shadows

Anyway, recovered ancient spells require ingredients, which means Glory needs a magic shop. Way to go with buying that ad, Giles!

And to complete the morning roll-call, let’s look in on Riley and Spike. The former Riley finds the latter over at Casa Summers, doing some ewwtastic sweater-sniffing. Nobody’s saying Spuffy is a hearts and flowers relationship in the making, are they? 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatch Shadows

Caught with his nose in the cashmere, Spike covers as best he can: “It’s a predator thing!” When that fails to convince, he does what he does second best, now that he can’t kill Slayers for fun with his bare hands. That is to say he turns the crank on Riley’s feelings of being irrelevant and unneeded within his own relationship. There’s plenty of ammo lying around ready to hand, since Riley didn’t know about Joyce’s latest medical woes.

So, the CAT scan. Joyce has a pink-slip shaped shadow on her brain pictures. It needs biopsying. It’s all very depressing over at the hospital. But there’s a lot of commuting in this episode, so let’s head back to the store, which is less depressing, even though the search for Glory has borne no fruit. Tara has a intriguing theory that her elaborate marvellousness (yes, that’s from Dreg again) may be older than language. If that’s true, the gang has no idea what Buffy’s fighting. It’s time to break out the cave drawings!

And they really do have no idea, as it turns out. The woman herself shows up to buy her spell components, and nobody but Buffy has seen Glory before. (And she’s really only gotten a good look at the smashing portions of Clare Kramer’s fists.) Giles packs up an amulet of badness and a bloodstone of now you’re really screwed and asks her extremeness (Dreg has a whopping case of Burly Detective syndrome and, in the absence of other humor in these episodes, because of the brain tumor situation, I plan to milk it for all it’s worth!) if she found everything she was looking for. Cha ching! Have a nice day. Remember, The Magic Box cannot be held accountable if these items are used to unleash any doom, localized or general, or even The Apocalypse.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatch Shadows

Riley appears at first to have taken the right lesson from his encounter with Spike: he’s shown up at the hospital prepared to be Supportive Boyfriend Man. Buffy is happy to see him. He’s groomed, he listens, and he’s ready with a warm jacket for covering up the sleeping, adorable Dawn. All Buffy can do is marvel, but Riley doesn’t notice her quietly grooving on his sweetness. 

It is a short moment, to be fair. Then a Doctor Isaacs shows up and says Joyce has a brain tumor, and that “things” are going to happen pretty quickly. They have to figure out if it’s operable. The implication is either they can fix it or she’s not gonna last very long.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatch Shadows

Since the oncologist is displaying all of the empathy of mold-infested particle board, Ben shows up to give Buffy a break from the questions. And also to remind us he’s in the season, possibly waiting to be killed by monsters, but otherwise probably not serving any great purpose.

Buffy delegates. She decides to see if her handy team witches can cure Mom. That would so be my first move, too! Riley attempts to console her and instead is offered babysitting and lying to Dawn duty. “Whatever you need,” he says, still appearing to be on board. He takes Dawn off to eat ice cream by a carousel (did he just decide not to take her back to school?) There, Dawn picks up the sledgehammer Spike was using to demolish Riley’s confidence. Hey, she says, you rock so much! You’re boring and never make Buffy cry. She was always worked up over Angel. We love how you can’t even get a rise out of her.

What do you know, kid? You didn’t even exist last year.

Riley’s reaction is to feel sad that he’s not the cause of oceans of tears.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatch Shadows

Buffy begs WillTaraGiles to magically cure Joyce and they say it won’t work. Then, with this obvious solution to the Slayer’s woes shot down in flames, Anya bursts forth with her discovery that Giles sold evil wares of wickedness to Glory—powerful stuff, for a big spell. The Scoobies have gotten as far as figuring out that she’s going to turn a snake into. . . something else. 

Wahoo! If Buffy can’t cure her mother, at least she can go thump someone much stronger. In the Buffyverse if you can’t feel better, go on a big old monsterbash.

Which is what Riley did last week, I guess, when he went and bombed out that nest of vampires. He turns up at the Magic Box and Xander tries to call him on his behavior. This may seem double-standardy, but of course the point is that Buffy’s more likely to survive a foolhardy decision or two.

So Xander reaches out, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Well, that’s not quite true. It goes to the bar. Instead of sorting out his feelings or talking honestly to his girlfriend, Riley heads to Willy’s, has a few belts, and lets Sandy feed off him. Then he stakes her.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatch Shadows

Poor Sandy. She really didn’t fare well in either life or unlife.

Fighting Glory isn’t actually the best idea Buffy ever had. She loses handily, again, and the snake is transmogrified and given its marching orders. Find the key, Glory tells it. Find Dawn, in other words.

And in time it does, turning up at the magic shop and getting all tongue-flicky and “Yay, mission accomplished!” Michelle Trachtenberg, whatever you may think of her acting abilities, can really really scream. I was impressed. 

From there, it’s a race scene. Giles and his shiny red car help Buffy run the snake down before it can deliver the truth. Fortunately, the snake is vastly less tough than the most silky and effervescent Glorificus, so Buffy is able to not only kill but tenderize it.

Back in S2, you’ll remember, Buffy did something similar to the Master’s bones and it was all cathartic and marvellous. She must long for those days. Because this is the longest day in the Sunnydale history of ever. Once that snake is dead and the secret of Dawn is back-burnered for the moment, Buffy has to collect her sister, orbit back to the hospital, deal with the emotional fallout of OMG, TUMOR! and then presumably answer Doctor Isaac’s questions about whether the Summers home has power lines or toxic waste issues.

This gives Riley, clad in a fashionable just-got-bit turtleneck, a chance to comfort Buffy. She’s glad for a hug and not in a place where she can bawl. He takes that, as he’s been taking so many other things, as rejection. On the outside, he’s still Supportive Boyfriend Man. On the inside, he’s anemic and surly.

Okay. So I do understand the writers were shuffling Riley offstage, and there had to be some reason. TV couples go from Madly In Love!™ to Begone, Ye Bastard! for wafer-thin reasons all the time. Riley’s lack of monster, and Buffy’s need for darkness is a legitimate enough relationship issue in a supernatural series. It’s a thing well worth hashing out at some point.

And I even remember that he’s an imaginary person. But all that said, I have limited sympathy for Riley’s wankiness here. “My mom has a brain tumor, holy S@%##@!!” should buy Buffy a lot of patience. It’s a coupon or thirty for being distant, short-tempered, confused and not very giving, okay?

It’s rotten to be the partner of the person who’s got the critically ill loved one—and I speak from a place of experience here—but hey! It’s not nearly as sucky as being the person with the critically ill loved one. Expecting to draw a lot of Buffy’s attention or resources between hospital vigils? It’s downright vampiric.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatch Shadows

So if Riley were a real person, I’d want to smack him around a little for all this wah wah poor me and drinking and Sandy-staking and all-around self-destructive behavior. You want to be supportive? Go clean Casa Summers and fill up the damned fridge with some damned casseroles!

Having said that, BuffRiley wasn’t bringing a lot of spark to the show. I’ve said I liked this long-running stable relationship, and that it was a boon to Buffy’s growing up process. But she’s got what she could from it. Like it or hate it, the sick sad Spuffy action is infinitely more interesting to us. 

Or maybe it’s just hard to care about Marc Blucas packing up his soldier booties and marching his way into the shadows when someone we’re far more attached to is also on a countdown to her final days on the show.

Next: What’s that, Fear? We can’t hear you.

A.M. Dellamonica has kaboodles of fiction up here on! Her ‘baby werewolf has two mommies,’ story, “The Cage,” made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010. There’s also “Among the Silvering Herd,” the first of a series of stories called The Gales.

Now you can read her novelette, “Wild Things,” that ties into the world of her award winning novel Indigo Springs and its sequel, Blue Magic.

1. build6
just want to say that one of the (many) things I love about S5 is the flattery of Glory by the minions. It's just adorable.
Marie Veek
2. SlackerSpice
@1: "This is our hour of glory!"
"Well punned!"
"Well, it just called out to me-"
Alyx Dellamonica
3. AMDellamonica
The Glory flattering is thoroughly delicious, Build, I agree.
4. Dr. Thanatos
Them minions sure know how to sweet-talk a girl. I think they got it from Bilbo ("Smaug, O Chiefest of Calamities!").

Best. Disposable Bad Guys. Ever.
5. Dianthus
No, Spuffy ain't all hearts and flowers. It's sacred flame and the greatest love story never told. It's a monster becoming a man.
It says a lot about Riley (and society at large), tho', that he's taking Dawn's words all wrong. She's happy that Buffy isn't going crazy over Riley like she did with Angel. Bangel seemed healthier on the outside, but it wasn't, not really. Dawn is telling Riley that he's good for her sister, and he completely ignores the fact she's supportive of him.
Emma Rosloff
6. emmarosloff
As much as I loved Glory and her gleeful minions, this part of the show dragged for me. You're right, brain tumors are no fun, Buffy and Riley have lost their spark, and since I wasn't a big Dawn fan, it was hard to invest in how integral she was to everything at this point in the story. Even how much Buffy cares about her, because Dawn kind of just felt like a nuisance to me the majority of the time.

Part of the blame lies with the writers. They like to give Dawn these lines where she inadvertently makes things worse just by speaking. Her intentions might be sound in her scene with Riley, but the line "she never gets that worked up over you" could easily be interpreted as "she doesn't feel strongly for you", which is actually pretty accurate. Another example -- in Once More With Feeling, Dawn tells Tara "I'm glad you and Willow aren't fighting anymore. I hate when you fight." which is how Tara discovers Willow's spell.

I'm not saying Dawn was in the wrong on either count (or that any of this is her fault), I'm just saying that the writers tend to make her the catalyst for unfortunate plot developments, not to mention how often she needs a'rescuin' (Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday). She ends up feeling more like a plot a device than a person, so it's no wonder she's so hard to like, when bad stuff seems to follow her wherever she goes. "Painfully symbolic" someone called her; that still resonates. All she's really good for is symbolizing innocence (and to be perfectly honest, Trackenburg's subpar acting chops make her not even that good at that). And appealing to teen viewers, I guess.

I will say that Spike always manges to get a laugh out of me, no matter how ridiculous the scene. His "it's a predator thing" line was priceless, as creepy as all that was. And unlike Dawn, he knows exactly what he's doing when he puts Riley through the ringer. I appreciated how his tone of voice softened just a touch when he talked about Buffy's mother being in the hospital, though. For all his wily, twisted ways, it's clear that he cares. That's what makes Spike great.

I agree that Riley is far too needy by the end of the episode. It was the culmination of what he'd been feeling for awhile, that Buffy didn't need him the way he wanted her to. Definitely illustrated in that last scene between them, when he tries to get her to open up and she insists that she can't.

To her credit, she's honest about why, and I think SMG did a great job in that scene. She turns away from him the moment her mother calls, but it's not callous, it's just where her priorities have to be. Everything changes in a situation like that. Whatever she may have been feeling (or not feeling) for Riley before the brain tumor, she's not even thinking about it now. And he shouldn't be, either. If he were stronger, he'd set it aside until the storm had passed.

While I liked Riley's downward spiral on paper, I don't think Marc Blucas had enough range as an actor for it to really make for gripping television. I don't really feel for him; I just kind of think he's a nuisance at this point, much like Dawn. The storyline with the mother felt like a necessary evil, more painful than suspenseful, and Glory is so out of Buffy's league at this point (wacky antics and all).

These three things combined left me feeling disenchanted, powerless and a little overwhelmed (much like Buffy, I'd imagine). Sounds like a recipe for good TV, but it sort of falls flat in execution. I found myself skipping through this episode for the better bits.
7. Dianthus
*This may seem double-standardy*
I see what you did there.
*And I even remember that he’s an imaginary person*
There too.
The double standard is on Whedon's part. Abuse is abuse, regardless of who's dishing it out.
@6.For all his wily, twisted ways, it's clear that he cares. That's what makes Spike great.
Amen, Sister. Amen.
8. Gardner Dozois
I must admit that Riley "cheating" on Buffy by getting vampires to suck his blood never seemed like a plausible reaction on his part to his feeling that Buffy wasn't engaged enough with him. It was also the easy way out, as far as getting rid of Riley was concerned. It was clear for awhile now that Riley was on the way out, but I would have much preferred seeing him confront Buffy with his feeling that she didn't really care for him and have them fight it out and break up than this rather lame sneaking-off-to-see-vampires thread. If they WERE going to do it, it would have been better if they'd gone all the way and had Riley become Evil. Would have been interesting if Buffy had ended up having to fight Riley to protect "innocent" vampires, maybe Spike. This was the lazy way to get rid of Riley (who I wasn't sorry to see go; the Riley/Buffy relationship was never terribly interesting; for all of its negative aspects, Spike/Buffy had much more of a charge).

And yes, Riley is acting like a dick here. It's not about HIM at the moment, it's about Buffy's Mom dying, and he ought to have some understanding about that.

In the HOBBIT reread somewhere else here, I pointed out that Bilbo talks to Smaug and the other goblins talk to the Goblin King in exactly the same over-the-top obsequius way that her minons talk to Glory, even using some of the exact same phrases, and I doubt that this was an accident. Can we really believe that Whedon hadn't read THE HOBBIT at some point in his developmental years?
9. Dr. Thanatos

My point exactly about how Minions sound an awful lot like goblins and hobbitses. Which supports my theory:

Time-Traveling Tolkein Copies Whedon!
10. Gardner Dozois
The real question is, what does Whedon have in its pocketesss?
11. Gardner Dozois
Doesn't one of the Scoobies refer to Glory's minons at one point as "diseased Hobbits"?
12. Dr. Thanatos
But it was Chuck who went up against the servants of the Ring...
13. Dianthus
@9. LOL! The real source of Whedon's "genius."
@11. I think it's Xander.
Constance Sublette
14. Zorra
Stupid snake monster of the week. Actually that's not accurate, as there wasn't and isn't a monster every week. Those eps tend to be mostly dull, but this one was jam-packed with information of all kinds.

As for the choice by Riley to turn to dark jollies because his beloved's has some darkness and has experienced the dark herself -- Riley's also young. This is his first experience with love. He's used to, has been groomed to be, the one on top, giving the orders. It all made sense to me.

It's the next episode, if I remember correctly, that in second viewing of The Seven Stations of Buffy convinced me that Joyce's illness was caused by the appearance of the Key.

Love, C.

EDT: Hope I didn offend anyone with that comparison of fictional Buffy's ordeals and The Seven Stations of the Cross. Especially as it's Lent, with Good Friday and Easter in the offing. But, this season 5, with death, followed by Resurrection into Hell on Earth, brings the Via Dolorosa to much to mind.
15. build6
@11 & 13 - yep, Xander in "Intervention" - "hobbits with leprosy" (talking to the BuffyBot :-)

Dawn/Key causing Joyce's tumour - I am going to disagree on this. I get this a lot from people who just dislike Dawn and want to pin everything on her, like how if the milk curdles or the cow dies it's all the fault of the "village witch"/unpopular person. Oh, and so was the fact that I tripped and broke the eggs I was carrying. Let's burn her! Or throw her in the river and see if she floats.

Sometimes things DO happen at the same time that are not related.

What makes me feel strongly "it's not Dawn", is that it serves no storytelling purpose if Joyce's death was *caused* by Dawn - that makes it "her fault", and she becomes the enemy (which is what a lot of the Dawn-blamers *want*, consciously or subconsciously). Buffy having to deal with her Mom's passing is more powerful story-wise, if it's *inevitable* - that Dawn or no Dawn, it was going to happen.

Within-canon it is also supported by how when she tried the trance to see the influence of magic on her Mom, she saw nothing (while clearly seeing evidence that something was "wrong" with Dawn). Surely a tumour caused by a magical event shows up as "magic-affected"?
16. Gardner Dozois
I also don't believe that Dawn caused Joyce's death--but we've had this argument with Zorra before.
17. Dianthus
Part of the reason we're still talking about this stuff is b/c so much is left open to interpretation, deliberately or not. It's frustrating at times, but fun too.
One of the things that bugs me is, if you're gonna leave stuff open to interpretation, don't get all shirty about it (lookin' at you, Joss) when other people come up with other ideas.
Also, "because I said so," or "I meant to do that" isn't always enough (believe it or not, I'm totally with you on that, AMD). Sometimes, it even seems like a failure of good storytelling.
I prefer a more organic approach, but Whedon's Mr. Big Picture Guy, and can't be bothered. It'll happen if he wants it to happen, even if it bends the story or characters out of shape. S8 of the comics (my current hobby horse) was very much in that vein. They had to back peddle away from that just like they had to back peddle away from s6.
Michael Ikeda
18. mikeda
Probably the main thing that's going on with Riley is a major communications misfire.

From his point of view it looks like Buffy isn't letting him help, isn't letting him be supportive. He doesn't realize that he's actually being supportive in the way that Buffy really needs.

It doesn't help that Buffy's usual reaction to emotional crisis is almost designed to interact badly with Riley's own insecurities.

Especially since Riley doesn't realize that it's just Buffy's way of handling the situation and not a personal rejection (I suppose Willow or Xander could have clued him in on this, if they had thought of it).

And, of course, neither of them ever talks about any of this until it's too late.
19. Dianthus
@18. Communication fails are everywhere in the Jossverse. Things would've gone down a lot differently if these people would just talk to one another. It's especially ironic considering all the verbiage we do get out of them. Of course, pop culture refs only get you so far.
Michael Ikeda
20. mikeda

"the good guys are not traditionally known for their communication skills" (Buffy, from "Chosen")
21. Dianthus
@20. mikeda - straght from the Slayers mouth. You'd think that would be part of that whole growing up thing. I wonder if Whedon has this exact problem?
Chris Nelly
22. Aeryl
Dianthus, I myself love the comics. I have found it helps to read them through a lens of feminist backlash.

The show was all about empowerment, but since it's gone off the air,(not saying the two are connected) women have been undergoing a lot of backlash over what had been considered feminist victories. Employees providing contraception coverage has become controversial, when it had been a pretty much decided issue for 30 years. It's controversial to pass the VAWA. It's acceptable* to talk about forcing rape victims to carry to term. These are all symptoms of a backlash against feminists, and I think this backlash very much informs the writing on S8 & S9. The characters have had to make decisions we don't like to make this metaphor work, so I can understand why people have a problem with it, but at the same time Buffy has always been a story that's interested in SAYING something about the world we live in, and if they weren't making these decisions , there wouldn't be anything to say.

*Not necessarily acceptable, since the most notorious politicans who engaged in this were soundly defeated, but they felt it was acceptable, which I think says some pretty terrible things about how they view the world.
Constance Sublette
23. Zorra
Could we demand all these politicians and legislators watch and re-watch Call the Midwife?

It's shocking in this day and age, these revelations about these men's entire ignorance about anything that has to do with women's bodies and reproduction. The BBC-PBS series about midwives serving a very poor post-WWII community in London could teach them a lot.

But presumably these are men who don't want to know any details about such icky oozy things as actual women who get pregnant and go through childbirth -- and then there the really icky oozy babies ....

Love, C.
24. Dianthus
@22. It doesn't seem to me like they're saying much of anything at all, at least not in any coherent fashion. Billy is sucking all the oxygen out of the room, Angel's misdeeds are getting whitewashed, Buffy's floundering, and Spike just got humiliated again after that big ol' nothingburger of a mini.
As you say, there's a lot of serious sh*t going down out in the real world, but the real world is not where these guys live.
@23. Stupid is as stupid does, and willful ignorance is as stupid as it gets. Fortunately for the rest of us, these guys are digging their own grave. I just wish they'd get on with it. The sooner they're out of the way, the better.
If you haven't read them, I'd like to recommend Charlie Pierce's Idiot America: how stupidity became a virtue in the land of the free and Al Gore's The Assault on Reason. Charlie also blogs for Esquire.
Constance Sublette
25. Zorra
I'm not seeing them in the cemetery yet, or for a long time. It's really awful for your health in most parts of North Dakota if you're a woman. That's just one state that has basically eliminated reproductive rights for women who aren't well-off economically and can't travel long distances quickly to get care.

Love, C.
Chris Nelly
26. Aeryl
@24, Oh the whole Buffy robot* thing was ALL about assault on women's agency and bodily autonomy. Billy is all about how can an act be empowering, if HALF the population is excluded. The whole issue with the seed and magic is all about what happens when you try to force change on society before it's ready. Good stuff.

*I know a lot of people were hacked off that Buffy went through the whole rigamarole over agonizing over getting an abortion, only to have the story get out of it with the robot, but to me having Buffy's body be stolen and her mind put in a robot was the perfect metaphor for forcing a woman to keep a pregnancy she wants to terminate, her body has been hijacked and forced to do something she did not consent.
27. Dianthus
@26. And who was it that did it to her? Someone she considered a friend! And now he's coming back, to do it again.
Your earlier post said it all, really. What we've got here is something Roger Ebert used to refer to as the Idiot Plot. None of this would be happening if these people weren't behaving like idiots. No, there was no need to trash our beloved characters to tell the story of a backlash against feminism.
As for Billy, he's completely unecessary (IMO). There's already a William who admires Buffy, and who was inspired by her to be more than anyone ever thought he could be.
That was kinda my point in the earlier arguement about the double standard.
I was 'hacked off' long before the abortion thing (one word: spacefrak), but Buffy couldn't even be bothered to call the clinic herself. IIRC, she made Spike do it! How cruel is that?
Alyx Dellamonica
28. AMDellamonica
@Dianthus: THis. Yes! "Dawn is telling Riley that he's good for her sister, and he completely ignores the fact she's supportive of him."

And @emmarosloff Yes also! "If he were stronger, he'd set it aside until the storm had passed."

@Mikeda - "It doesn't help that Buffy's usual reaction to emotional crisis is almost designed to interact badly with Riley's own insecurities. " So true!
29. Dianthus
@28. Thank you. I'm reminded of the lines from an old song:
"This can't be love/
because I feel so well/
No sobs, no sorrows, no sighs..."
We are so often our own worst enemies.
Of course, it's that much worse to see her mooning around after Riley in As You Were. It's just embarassing.
30. Dianthus
I will say this for the comics. It's GTK that Buffy is now a master-bater without feelings of guilt or shame (Satsu), unlike before (Spike).
I can all too readily imagine a young Joss Whedon - sad, scared, alone - taking himself in hand for whatever comfort he could find. Only to be assailed by the 'wrongness' of it afterwards.
Nature is what we are put on this Earth to overcome (Rose Sayer, The African Queen).
Let's not kid ourselves here. The issues Whedon is primarily concerned about are his own. Addiction, abandonment, loss, bad dads. What a shame his father couldn't be more like VP Joe Biden.
That's right folks. I'm talking about hot Slayer-on-Slayer action. Whedon said he never would've gone there in the series. After all, it has nothing to do with what team Buffy's batting for, now does it?
Michael Ikeda
31. mikeda
I do find it fitting that we're getting a discussion on the comics in the middle of the S5 rewatch, since I've long thought that the S8 comics are a lot like S5 just on a larger scale.
Chris Nelly
32. Aeryl
@30, That is some crazy projection there, IMO, considering that Whedon's quite close with his dad and family and has never really had to deal with any of that(Addiction, Abandonment). To me, he writes about what interests and challenges him, and if you don't like the story he's telling, stop.

And no, I don't think the plots are Idiot Plot, I just think that for the story to keep going, these characters can't progress as much as everyone seems to think they have and should. Which is fine! Characters that only make the right choices with good consequences make for boring story. You may not feel that the writers have to tell a backlash story that way, but this is how they chose to, you can either enjoy it or get over it.

And yes, of course Andrew was the one who did that to her, he is still invested in the old patriarchal power structure she tried(but failed) to destroy in Chosen(that was her whole problem in S8, keeping the army, which went against the power sharing she did in Chosen). That is why Andrew is still in the closet, he has not yet accepted that the world has changed and that the old methods of power but be left behind.

@31, I agree. There was a lot of commentary in S8 that I enjoyed, like the stuff about Twilight(the books not the villain), the acknowledgement that Buffy(read women) needs a healthy sex life to live a balanced life. There was a lot of stuff I liked.
33. Dianthus
@32. If you like the comics, great. I wish you joy. I had stopped reading them for most of s8, b/c I didn't need Mr. Hollywood Big Shot to tell me how much life can suck. Then they bought back the rights to the Angel characters from IDW. Once they reintroduced Spike, I was doomed.
I don't see this as pro-sex feminism, regardless of the line "Great Muppetty Odin, I miss that sex."
Scarred for life, I'm tellin, ya.
Chris Nelly
34. Aeryl
The Odin line is but the start of that arc, IMO. It's all over the place in the series, subtle references for the most part(and one not very subtle one, you know the one I'm talking about, with the trains), but I think part of the point its trying to make is that Buffy's denial of this essential(especially for her, with the connection between Slaying and sex) part of her left her in a bad frame of mind and vulnerable when the space whammy hit her. It also led her to do some not so sex-positive things, like take advantage of Satsu and try to make the move on Xander.
35. Dianthus
@34. Actually, I don't know about the train thing, but was it going into/thru a tunnel? What bothers me is the *I miss the service, but not the provider* aspect of it. I suppose you can't miss someone if he's part of you, and relying on Spike to make the call to the abortion clinic gives more support to the idea that Spike represents her inner strength, but I don't have to like it.
Also, Nikki gets pregnant by a guy whose name she doesn't even know in 1977!?! Abortion was legal by then, the Pill was's like the Sexual Revolution didn't even happen. They'd already set up Robin as her son, but still.
Also, Buffy doesn't care about finding the guy who supposedly impregnated her? What's that about?
Also, too...Buffy didn't even get angry with Andrew for what he'd done. It was Spike who took him task for it.
Chris Nelly
36. Aeryl
Yea, it was a dream shot of Buffy sandwiched between Spike and Angel, with all types of penetration imagery going on, including two trains going into tunnels.

And as far as Nikki, well yes the pill was available, but not always affordable, it's been demonstrated that the Watcher's Council doesn't exactly offer a health plan, and clinics may have been a little too nosy about all her injuries, and even if she was taking the pill, it ain't 100%. So I don't have a problem with that, and the entire point of the story is that Nikki could have chosen an abortion but decided to keep Robin, because it demonstrates that women are not monolith and will make different choices when faced with similar decisions.

And Buffy's not feeling the need to search for the father, well if she plans on aborting it, how will that help? It's her body, her decision, he'll either be a decent guy and support her, so then what's the point, or he'll be an ass and feel he's entitled to a "voice" in this matter, and again what's the point? This is one of the reasons it helps to look at this from a feminist viewpoint, IMO, because for those of us who advocate for reproductive rights, this isn't a "huzzuh?" moment, it parallels very real things that women and their allies deal with a lot. I got pregnant without being certain who the father was, and I wasn't particularly concerned about it until after I delivered, because prenatal paternity tests are risky, in addition to being prohibitively expensive to an underemployed single woman with no health insurance, and if I couldn't find out for certain, what was the point of stressing?

And she didn't take Andrew to task, because at the time she was feeling pretty down about herself and about the fact that Andrew made this "better" life for her, and she wasn't exactly thinking about it that way.
37. Dianthus
@36. That wasn't the cross thing was it? I try not to think about that if I can help it.
Did you ever see Veronica Mars?
If you're a Slayer, you'd want to take precautions. Wouldn't you? No glove, no love. C'mon.
So we've gone from 'Bad Dad' to 'What Dad?' I sp'ose it's progress, of a sort.
That 'better life' was a lie, and now we're back to Going Through the Motions Buffy, like we didn't get enough of her the first time around.
As for Buffy throwing herself at Xander (whom she'd already rejected as boyfriend material back in HS), don't remind me. No one wants to read the adventures of Buffy the Pathetic Loser.
Then there's the gag (and I do mean gag) about Twilight/dog licking its balls.
I could go on, but then we'd never get to another topic. Each issue so far has been like the Death of a Thousand Cuts for me, and I'm not the only one. Following the discussion at Dark Horse, reading the letters....There's a fair amount of dissatisfaction out there, and you can't be unaware of how deep it runs.
Comics aren't really my medium anyway. It takes me, like, five minutes to read an issue and then I've got to wait another month (at least) for the next one? Meh.
Chris Nelly
38. Aeryl
I'm not unaware of the feeling of disappointment several feel about the comics, but the fans who enjoy it aren't the ones hitting boards every month to crow about it. And reading it, I think a lot of the criticisms are more about the medium than the content.

These mischaracterizations have been going on since The Witch, but because episodes came one after the other, there wasn't time to pore over them looking for things to complain about(while they were airing). With comics there are, and I think they get dissected so much, the story gets forgotten.

I don't read them as they come out, I wait for the TPBs(though I follow the story). And you may not want to read the story of Buffy the Pathetic Loser, but plenty of people do, because that makes her relatable. For example, this Riley arc right here. We've all had our hearts broken, we've all had relationships fall apart, and because Buffy, as super and special as she is, still suffers what we suffer, she becomes us and we become her, which was the whole point of the story anyway.
39. Dianthus
I never would've picked up the comic if I hadn't watched, and enjoyed, the show. As I said, comics are not my medium of choice. Whedon and Co. have done nothing to change that.
I'm not mischaracterizing them, either. We both know that Whedon likes to work in metaphor and leave things open to interpretation. I'm giving my interpretation of events to explain my objections/response to them.
A. human genetic material isn't the only kind that can be transmitted sexually.
B. If you can't afford birth control, how can you afford a child?

Also, too...Spike, in a terrible moment of weakness, tried to force himself on Buffy. As penance, he had to travel halfway around the world and face a series of dangerous trials.
OTOH, Andrew coolly and deliberately roofied Buffy's drink, violated her agency as a person, and what did he have to do? Wait, let me think, oh riiight. Bugger all!
I'm not asking you to defend the decisions they've made. That would be ridiculous. I am simply stating my objections. You have your opinions, and I have mine.

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