Mon
Apr 29 2013 12:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: It’s Not Your Mother’s Monkey’s Paw

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever, Dawn

“Forever,” written and directed by Marti Noxon

There are no ‘previously on BtVS’ scenes last week, for reasons that are indelibly burned on our hearts. Only one thing happened and we all remember it, am I right?

So! “Forever” starts with a bit of a decoy action: Buffy’s in a room full of coffins, and we’re invited to imagine she’s doing something fun, like hunting bloodsucking fiends. Or... well, there’s not much in the way of other fun you can have in a room full of coffins. At least, not alone. I suppose nowadays if you had a good camera phone you could take some interesting selfies. 

(And put them on the internets. And get denied gainful employment, later, as a result...)

Alas, what Buffy is actually doing is picking a box for Joyce’s eternal snooze. Dawn’s not so sure about her choice, and they talk about the unsavory prospect of her being in the coffin forever. Everyone who’s been there, done that will remember that funeral preparations are a enormous, depressing drag and nobody’s happy to be there. Everyone who hasn’t can take their word for it.

This message gets underlined with a grim Scooby meeting which is all about nailing down the final details. Joyce hated wakes, so there won’t be one. Dad Summers, we find out, is still absent and possibly in Spain. Giles is continuing to fill in as patriarch. Somehow it feels different, weightier. Is it just that the Scoobs really are too young to be without a parent figure?

The focus, though, is Dawn. She is feeling so alienated from Buffy that she asks if she can stay over at WillTara’s after the service. Buffy’s clearly surprised, but also can’t think of a reason to object.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever, Spike

As the Scoobies go their separate ways, Willow mentions she’s gonna stop by home and visit her mom. Xander’s saying he might just do that too when Spike shows up. He’s got flowers, because Joyce was nice and never treated him like a freak. The boys get into snarling at each other, and in the end Spike tosses the bouquet and walks away. We find out he didn’t leave a card—that the gesture wasn’t an attempt to score points with Buffy.

The burial itself is typically awful, and everyone is sad. Buffy and Dawn are still coping alone, even when they’re together. The most that can be said for this scene is that Xander’s extremely well dressed. Darn it, this show usually makes death more fun. Some of the casualties have been downright rollicking experiences.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever, Dawn

Buffy is standing over the grave, through the afternoon and until sunset, when Angel arrives.

It’s rather lovely to hear the BuffAngel love theme again. Isn’t that odd? Especially in the episode after the episode with no music.

In a ‘wow, this is all so woeful’ way, I kinda love this graveside vigil and the Angel visit. Even though she knows how her mother died—knows there’s no real chance of vamping—there’s a sliver of this night spent by the grave, it seems to me, that is about Buffy waiting to make sure Joyce doesn’t come up out of the ground. Staying is also, obviously, a component of Buffy’s mourning process. Even so, it reflects that grim Hellmouth reality: so many of her beloveds have gone bad in one way or another that she pretty much has to make sure.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever, Angel

Problem is, she’s staked out the grave too early.

Anyway, BuffAngel spend the night under what looks awfully like their favorite graveyard picnic tree. She tells him she’s had many funereal tasks to fill the time up to now, but that tomorrow, normal life begins. She doesn’t know how to navigate an everyday existence without Joyce. Mostly, she’s freaking out about how to take care of her sister. It’s all very understandable.

This scene is also well-timed to show how completely Spike isn’t on Buffy’s romantic radar at this point. She’s needy, she’s single, and what she really wants is her first love back. In the end, though she’s incredibly grateful that he came to support her, she has to send The Broody One back to L.A.

XandAnya are discharging their painful emotions with intimacy, too. Afterward, we learn Anya has had some epiphanies about sex. It’s more intense because of Joyce, she realizes, and her heightened awareness of mortality. She mentions making life and Xander panics, but they talk their way past the implied threat of babies. It’s a lovely scene, a picture of what’s best about this relationship.

Dawn, of course, is mourning hard. Willow and Tara are trying to make her feel better and it doesn’t help at all.  Willow mentions witchery and Dawn decides that’s the answer. Magic it better, she says.

Tara, moral authority on all things witchable, replies that this is impossible. “Witches can’t be allowed to alter the fabric of life for selfish reasons,” she declares. She also says witches took an oath not to resurrect the dead.

Dawn, super-logically, points out that if there’s an oath then there is totally a spell.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever, Dawn

And Willow—what a shocker!—is thinking it over. She sneakily pulls out a book on resurrection for Dawn before she goes off to class.

Over at the season’s big storyline, where deities are waiting in the wings to kill Key-shaped teenagers and whoever else shows up, Ben the sometimes-benevolent doctor is being accosted by one of Glory’s minions. The Most Unstable One wants Ben to follow up on his attempt to date Buffy, as a means of learning more about the Key. Ben goofs and refers to the Key as an innocent. Jinx the Minion is no dummy, and Ben ends up stabbing him to protect Dawn’s secret. We give him points for doing the right thing, but must mark him down on the execution, as Jinx does not in fact die of his wound.

(We also wonder what the Hippocratic Oath says about doing harm to scabby demon minions, but that may be off point.)

Dawn has a snuffle through the resurrection material in the book Willow ‘gave’ her and then heads off to the Magic Box. She easily gets Giles to tell her where the potent (i.e. dangerous) magic stuff is kept and beelines for it. This is her first solo foray into stealing stuff from the magic shop and it goes well. She is on her way to becoming quite the thieve-y ninja con artist.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever, Dawn, Spike

Next thing you know, she’s at the graveyard, getting a handful of dirt from atop Joyce’s grave... and Spike catches her at it. He has a bit of a gift for that. She thinks he’s going to rat her out, but instead he says he’ll help.

Is this the first time he calls her Little Bit? At all, or just to her face? I find this nickname very charming.

Always one to look a gift horse in the fangs, Dawn accuses him of doing it because he’s stalking Buffy. But he says he doesn’t like seeing the Summers women take it on the chin. And what’s she going to do? Nobody else is going to help her.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever, Glory

Elsewhere, Giles is having his own little Joyce vigil with the Cream album from “Band Candy” and a little alcohol. Glory’s non-punctured minions find Jinx in time to save his life, allowing him to gaspingly reveal that the Key is in human form. Glory is delighted. “The Key is in a flesh wrapper,” she crows. It’s all happy times in the land of the sanity-challenged deities.

By now, Spike has taken said flesh wrapper to consult with a guy named Doc on the whole resurrection thing. And, look! Doc is Joel Grey! Hi Joel Grey, I forgot you were in this one! He’s kind of insane but also, apparently, nice. He advises against raising the dead, but he’s less adamant than, say, Tara. Given a little encouragement, he rips out some Dawn hair and says Joyce has strong DNA.

He can see DNA. Don’t you wish you could see DNA? All we get to see is that he has a tail.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever, Joel Grey

Joel gives them their marching orders: to pull off the spell, they have to steal a plot coupon... er, an egg from a Ghora demon. They put it in a circle with a picture of Joyce and conduct the obligatory chanting. If anything goes wrong, they have to destroy the picture.

They go to the Ghora demon nest and Momma bird is bigger than Spike expected. She is also three-headed. Dawn shatters one egg and Spike’s obliged to save her when she dives in after a second. He gets extremely bitten. His motivations here may be a little murky, but we can’t doubt his commitment to this cause.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever, Spike, Dawn

Then Dawn motors home with her magic zombie mom components and discovers that, fortunately, the incantation has an english translation.

Around this time WillTara are hanging out and Willow is journaling. (This is another reaction to Joyce’s death: she says she wants to remember every moment with Tara. Ouch! Is that foreshadowing? Kinda burns, huh?) Before we have a chance to get bummed about tragedies to come, Tara notices that the NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF WITCHCRAFT LITERATURE is missing from their bookshelf. Willow acts stupidly, ostentatiously, neon-sign of guilt here guilty... but doesn’t fess up. They agree they have to call Buffy.

On the upside, Dawn is doing the spell in her bedroom with the door open, which makes it easy for Buffy to interrupt her. Unfortunately, she’s already finished.

The sibling fight that perhaps should’ve happened before the funeral finally erupts. Dawn basically accuses Buffy of not wanting her and not giving much of a crap about the tragedy. As we all see Joyce shoes walking across the lawn, Buffy breaks down. She says all the same things she basically said to Angel, except first she slaps her sister and then she begins to cry.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Forever, Dawn

There’s a knock at the door. Joyce is home. And Buffy can’t not hope. She rushes to the porch with another “Mommy!” But Dawn has figured it out by now. She tears up the picture, Joyce isn’t there when the door swings wide, and the show closes with the sisters clinging to each other and having a loud and necessary cry.

There will be fun next week, I promise.

Next: Spuffbot!


A.M. Dellamonica has tons of fiction up here on Tor.com! 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.

48 comments
Jack Flynn
1. JackofMidworld
I mentioned last week that I saw season 6 before going back and restarting from the beginning, and this episode really seemed to call ahead to the Spike in that season (and Angel after that). The flowers, without the card to show who they were from, really seems to be him being almost human, by accident, though, not just to try and impress Buffy.
Marie Veek
2. SlackerSpice
(We also wonder what the Hippocratic Oath says about doing harm to scabby demon minions, but that may be off point.)

Well, considering that it's one scabby demon against God only knows how many people if Glory uses Dawn to get home, it's not that difficult a choice.
Constance Sublette
3. Zorra
Angel and Buffy's final tryst, in the cemetery, at night: the central fact of Buffy's life. Death is Buffy's life -- as Spike will tell her at one point. She's happiest, most at peace, in the place of the dead.

In retrospect ... the end of this season, and season 6.

She didn't want to leave; she was forced out.

Buffy and Angel in the cemetery after Joyce's funeral is the single most recollected by me scenes in the entire series. It was perfect.

Love, C.
Thomas Thatcher
4. StrongDreams
I need some help here because I only caught this episode once, probably on early morning bef0re work re-runs on TNT.

Was Joyce supposed to be resurrected in a bad way, thus ending the spell saved the scoobs from a worse horror? Or was it an acceptance that the dead need to stay dead? Was it informed by Buffy's experience being forcibly brought back from heaven?
Alyx Dellamonica
5. AMDellamonica
Hi, Dreams,

Buffy hasn't come back from the dead yet, so nothing in this episode informed that. Tara insisted the dead need to stay dead, but the implication was definitely that Joyce would be resurrected in a bad way.

Your point is excellent, SlackerSpice, but I have the idea that the Hippocratic Oath is, among other things, about not making those kindso f judgment calls. You just heal everyone and do no harm.

But am I a doctor? Do I know? No.

Is there a doctor in the thread?
Dianthus
6. Dianthus
It's a bad couple of weeks for us Spike fans, and no mistake. Written out of The Body, then once more shunted aside to make way for The Great Forehead. I can understand why Spike wasn't in last week's ep. It has nothing to do with Buffy's Slayerness, after all. Doesn't mean I have to like it.
As for Spike and Dawn, well, he's once again falling into his role of unofficial/temporary guardian. Both William, and the Irish diminuitive form Liam, mean guardian.
I'd like to digress for a bit, and discuss one of Spike's other roles, since Angel is here for the contrast. Beyond the Good Girl (Buffy)/Bad Girl (Faith) dichotomy lies the Madonna (Angel)/Whore (Spike) dichotomy.
Angel was a "perfect gentleman" 'til teh S-E-X made him Bad. OTOH, Spike is all about teh S-E-X. He enjoys it, and he's good at it. This makes him "a disgusting pig."
Intervention can't come soon enough.
Marie Veek
7. SlackerSpice
@5: I suspect that when they say "no harm", they refer specifically to the patients under the doctor's care more than anything.
Dianthus
8. MysticalGirl
@Alyx, not a doctor, but I think the Hippocratic Oath is only supposed to apply to actual patients. A doctor is allowed kill in self-defense like anyone else, for example, - though that's not exactly what Ben does here.
Dianthus
9. BarbAgingFanGirl
Two things struck me about this episode:
I was genuinely terrified at the shot of Joyce's shoes approaching the house. I felt in my gut that she would be coming back "wrong." It was very brave of Dawn to abort the spell.

Second, Spike's desire to live a "normal" family life continues to be moving. He bonded with Joyce over "Passions" and a cuppa, and treats Dawn with uncomplicated affection. Angel never exhibited any of those traits.
Keith DeCandido
10. krad
Giles mourning Joyce by silently putting "Tales of Brave Ulysses" on the turntable while drinking a Scotch is one of the single best scenes in the history of television. Seriously, that was a brilliantly understated scene that was just perfect in every way without overdoing anything. Even if you don't remember "Band Candy," it's exquisite, and when you remember it ("Listen to this bit, this bit's brilliant"), your heart just breaks.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Marie Veek
11. SlackerSpice
@8: Indeed. If anything, summoning the Queller might arguably be closer to what Alyx describes.
Dianthus
12. Dianthus
Band Candy has to be my favorite non-Spike ep of the series. Of course, you've got both 'Ripper' Giles and Ethan Rayne. Spioke himself would seem almost redundant.
I love the foreshadowing (of sorts), especially when Joyce pulls out those cuffs.
I loved Spike's flowers. He could've nicked some fancy wreath or bouquet from someone else's grave. Instead, he brought a modest bouquet of roadside wildflowers he obviously gathered himself. It's a very touching gesture.
Going back to Family for a moment, it's telling, IMO, that Riley wasn't the only Buffy lover who didn't make the cut. Angel wasn't there either. The soul was imposed on him from the outside, and he still hasn't made peace with it. Maybe he never can? He was cursed to suffer, after all.
Still, as he'll tell Spike (on AtS), he enjoyed being evil for Evil's sake, so maybe he should suffer.
Dianthus
13. Gardner Dozois
Not as powerful as the previous episode, but a good episode all the same, with a lot of good personal moments, like Giles listening to the Cream record, and Buffy and Angel talking quietly in the graveyard.

I always felt that Spike was sincere in being regretful that Joyce was dead because she was nice and always treated him like a person, not a monster--as we discussed a couple of weeks ago, not an emotion that a vampire ought to be able to feel. Spike also seems to feel some genuine affection for Dawn, and casts himself in a protective Big Brother role to her, even risking injury and death to help her, something I can't see Angelus doing, even if for some magical reason he was enjoined against instantly torturing and killing her. Spike is a very unusual vampire.

I always assumed that the strong implication was that Joyce had "come back wrong," and that she would have turned out to be some sort of zombie--I think the shuffling, lurching way her feet are shown moving through the grass is a good indication of that.
Dianthus
14. Dianthus
A "very unusual vampire" indeed. A unique anomaly no less.
Zombie Joyce would no more be the 'real' Joyce than Buffybot could be the 'real' Buffy (something Spike will come to realize, much to his chagrin).
Dianthus
15. Catherinef
I always get a chill at Doc's reply when Dawn asks if what comes back from the grave will still be her mother: "More or less." I'd been re-reading Pet Sematary fairly recently before re-watching this episode, so felt especially frightened at Joyce's lurching slippers; this episode could be summed up by the famous line from that book - "Sometimes dead is better". It's very moving that both Dawn and Buffy are so grief-stricken and lonely that they're willing to take the risk, and that Spike sees enough grief to make him help despite the dangers.
Jason Parker
16. tarbis
Lot of good stuff in this episode. Plot movement on Glory's search for the Key. The whole Monkey's Paw riff with Joyce and having it not end in a fight scene. Giles listening to Cream. Anya and Xander's conversation is a personal favorite ('smooshing' is such an excellent silly fun euphemism). A magic user, Tara, treating witchcraft as a religion instead of an easy road to power. The scene in the graveyard where it's clear that Angel and Buffy still love each other, but aren't in love (using the big romance novel version of the phrase) anymore.

On reflection the graveyard scene makes me hate "Chosen" and "The Girl in Question" a little more than I already did. In the graveyard you had two people that had grown enough to know that they shouldn't be together, but can care for the other and still move forward with their life and unlife. Season seven of Buffy and season five of Angel they've regressed for comedic effect. Under the tree in the graveyard was a better place to leave their relationship.
Dianthus
17. Dr. Thanatos
Regarding the Hippocratic Oath:

Makes no mention of "do no harm." Mostly is an oath in the name of Apollo and all the Gods that you will attend to patients, take care of fellow doctors, and don't do abortions. Note that despite popular mythology the Oath:

1) Has no legal status
2) Is a philosophical guide only
3) Is not administered at all medical schools (some schools use the Oath of Maimonides, some use a basic statement of ethics; many of my more christian classmates swore they would never take an oath in the name of Greek Gods)

Bottom line: the Hippocratic Oath is an interesting statement of medical philosophy and ethics as it stood in ~100 BC but has no binding legal meaning in modern times.
Dianthus
18. Dianthus
@16. Well said! Wicca is a form of worship, and that usually gets lost in discussions of witchcraft , including BtVS. No sincere, practicing Wicca would behave as Willow does (the Rule of Three).
Also, YES! YES! YES! to your last paragraph. The regression is even worse in the comix. Really, it's like they've got nothing new to say. It's maddening.
Spike's desire for a home and family still plays a part in his journey, too.
Mike Kelmachter
19. MikeKelm
This episodes borrows heavily from "the Monkeys Paw" which is a short story by W.W. Jacobs from 1902. Like this episode we never see the person brought back from the dead as both are returned to the grave just before the door opens. It is realized (presumed really) at the last second that the dead have returned wrong. In the short story, the body had been mangled in an industrial accident and returned as a horrendously deformed monster. In this case it is assumed that Joyce has returned as some type of zombie. Per the series mythology, we could conclude that it might have been the few day dead body but not the soul of Joyce, the soul having passed on at time of death.
Alyx Dellamonica
20. AMDellamonica
Thanatos--thank you!!

Tarbis--I agree. BuffAngel could have ended here (as in they never come together onscreen again) and I'd have been happy with that.
Marie Veek
21. SlackerSpice
Another interesting point - here Tara is adamantly against raising the dead, but in "Bargaining", she is apparently less so with Buffy. Thoughts?
Emma Rosloff
22. emmarosloff
@21: It was assumed (wrongly) on the part of the Scoobies that Buffy was thrown into some sort of hell dimension upon sacrificing herself for Dawn. Limited experience proved this possible: namely Buffy killing Angel/casting him into a hell dimension and him coming back all traumatized.

Whereas with Joyce, it was very clearly death by natural causes. I could see how Tara might be more open to the idea of bringing Buffy back, if she really thought the Slayer was trapped in hell. It still might be messing with the current order of things, but the natural one, not as much.
Marie Veek
23. SlackerSpice
@22: I knew that, but I figured that based off her whole thing here about not altering the fabric of nature, etc, meant she seriously believed that you don't do it, period, regardless of the reasons why. So why the sudden 180?
Chris Nelly
24. Aeryl
Because Willow saved her life, and Willow wanted to do it.

I thought that the portrayal of their relationship in the early S6 really highlighted how far Willow had gone after the death of Buffy. Sure, Willow, as seen here, would have been willing, but Tara, as seen here, wouldn't. I think that Tara's gratitude was so great, she allowed herself to go along with things she knew she shouldn't, which also showed the audience that one of the big checks on Willow's behavior was no longer in place.
Chris Nelly
25. Aeryl
I also don't necessarily think it's fair to say that Buffy regressed here, in regards to Angel. Angel is the one that abandons his team in LA to die fighting Buffy's apocalypse. In the comics, she has one passing thought about Angel, it was about sex(after its spelled out that she's deprived) and that thought is shared with Spike(as in she's thinking about them both).

Angel is the one that regressed. He's the one, after losing Cordy in S5, decides that Buffy is his ONE TRUE LOVE, and that he WILL DO ANYTHING to be with her.

The whole thing about S8, is it's OBVIOUSLY commentary on the Twilight saga and the trend that morphed out of Whedon's original characterization of the creepy soulful vampire stalker, so to make that commentary work, Angel has to become Edward.

To add: Yes, she kissed Angel in End of Days. But that was in the rush of combat, after she thought she had defeated Caleb. And she blew him off immediately after(I was always of the opinion that the cookies speech was just another version of the "It's not you, it's me" speech that Angel read WAY TOO MUCH into).

In addition, mainly Angel was brought back to give the Bangels a fist bump moment, and it was only fair. The Spuffys got PLENTY of those on Angel S5, IMO.
Dianthus
26. Dianthus
Spuffies got fist-bump moments in AtS s5? That's an interesting take on it, considering Buffy wasn't available. This Spuffy begs to disagree.
The 'cookie dough' speech bugs the hell out of me. If it's sincere, then why would Buffy have to change to be with Angel? If it's not...then it's just crap, IMO.
Whedon has said that Angel was a puppet (after AtS), and how fun it was to make him a literal puppet (Smile Time). So now we know who was pulling his strings. It plays into him thinking he's special, when he's not really so special after all. Spike really is special/unique, but doesn't think of himself that way.
Buffy's retreat into the past with Angel makes sense here, since she's just lost her mom and she's seeking comfort. It makes less and less sense as time passes. Except you've got this one group of fans...Whedon expressed surprise that they were still out there. OTOH, he keeps feeding them. How many codas does this relationship need? IWRY should've been the end of it.
That Angel and Spike are still hung-up on Buffy is surely meant to be symbolic of something or other, and keeps it All. About. Buffy. Harmony's not hung-up on Spike anymore, and that's how they justified her and Spike together in A&F #20. No other character(s) stayed hung-up on another for so long.
Personally, I'm getting tired of being played. If you're gonna break our hearts, do it quick and make it a clean break. Otherwise, it's time to put up or shut up.
Chris Nelly
27. Aeryl
That whole episode where Angel's dreaming?

Destiny?

Any time Spike was shown as the more moral man?

There were plenty of times where Spike relationship w/Buffy was used to goad or irritate Angel, just as Angel showed up to irritate Spike.

I don't know where you get this Spike still hung up on Buffy thing, HE LEFT HER!! It's unfair to say Buffy regressed with Spike, because she never evolved. You can't go backwards if you've never gone forward, and she hasn't, and that's why he left. To find himself as a seperate person from Buffy. To give her space to figure out how she wanted him in her life. I haven't read all of S9 yet, only the recaps, so I can't speak for how the Spike/Harm thing played out, so I'll reserve judgement. But I know for me, sometimes a bounce with a former is a salve that does a broken heart good, and I expect that's how the author meant it to be portrayed, but the author is ignorant of a lot of Spike's backstory, it's like he only ever saw Spike on AtS. And that did a disservice to Spike as a character on A&F.

Angel of course is still hung up on her, but that's because he's pretty much incapable of evolving.

You can be tired of being played, me, I love the pain and beg for more.
Emma Rosloff
28. emmarosloff
@23: Similar to what Aeryl said, I feel like Tara's love for Willow gives her this blindspot where Willow is concerned, nevermore than at the beginning of Season 6. It's almost like she's in Willow's thrall; at the height of her feelings for her after the whole Glory thing.

As 6 progresses, Tara eventually finds the strength to break it off, but Willow's abuse of magic has to get pretty damn bad, first. Tara's even willing to give her a second chance after Willow screws with her memories. It's only when she does it again (to everyone), after promising Tara she won't... it's only then that Tara finally understands how little she's worth to Willow at that point in the story.

But at the beginning of the season it's almost like Willow can do wrong in her eyes. And so she justifies the ritual, because it's the path of least resistance, and because it's what everyone wants -- Buffy back. The fight was already relentless enough with the Slayer at the front of things. Without her, I could see that it would get bleak enough to resort to something like that out of desperation. I could see how the thought that Buffy might be trapped in some untold hell dimension would add even more fuel to that fire.

That's part of the point I was trying to make, I guess. There's stronger motivation here. Yes, Joyce's death was a tragedy, and she was a pivotal figure in Buffy and Dawn's lives, but life will still go on, and Tara knows that.

Without Buffy, though, life very well might not. It's like there's no hope left in the world. Particularly with Faith still at large and no new Slayer stepping up to the plate. Tara's firm belief in 'maintaining the natural order' was easier to uphold when the situation wasn't nearly so dire. And whose to say it hasn't thrown the order out of whack to be without an active Slayer? That's part of what I love about this show. Morality gets fuzzier and fuzzier. The darker things get, the bigger the gray area. It's interesting to watch the characters react in ways you might not expect.
Chris Nelly
29. Aeryl
@28, Emma, I agree with pretty much all your comment, about how what was once unthinkable to the Scoobs at one point, becomes all to acceptable once the poo hits the fan.

The only thing, Faith is not actually at large, she's in prison at this time(Sorry I can't HALP MYSELF)
Dianthus
30. Gardner Dozois
From interviews, it seems like Whedon never liked Angel, was resentful of him gathering such a big fan base, and probably had mixed feelings about him getting his own show. Whedon didn't approve of vampires being Romantic Love Interests for Buffy, but it kept inevitabily skewing that way anyway. And once Angel/Buffy or Spike/Buffy were set in motion, they became large driving forces to bring people to the show, so you couldn't easily get rid of them without hurting your demographics.

It's confusing for those of us who don't read the comics when stuff from the comics is mixed into the discussion, but as far as the TV series is concerned, I don't recall Angel deserting his L.A. team to go die in Buffy's apocalypse. Nor did Spike leave Buffy--he died in the apocalypse and was reborn in L.A. as a ghost who couldn't leave the building. They toyed with new Love Interests for Angel in ANGEL'S last season, the werewolf, for instance, but none of them stuck. They seemed to be toying with fixing Spike up with Fred, but that didn't stick either, and I don't recall Spike having any other romantic entanglements for the rest of the last season. What happened after the show went off the air, I don't know.
Chris Nelly
31. Aeryl
At the end of S4's Home, Angel left LA to go to Sunnydale, showing up inS7's End of Days. If he'd worn the amulet as he planned, he'd have died. I think he knew that, I think this was his attempt at big gesture, like Spike does.

Spike leaves Buffy in the comics, I can understand the confusion.

The whole thing about tying Buffy's love interests to vampires is a big plot line in the comics, actually. It's also a rumination on what happens to a story when it's principal author is no longer as involved(when it no longer has the soul it once had, for those who've read it).
Dianthus
32. Dianthus
I can say Spike's still hung up on Buffy cuz he says as much to Angel (A&F #20). He left her, even tho' he still loves her, cuz she wasn't giving him any indication of her own feelings. This is the same guy who already told her in s7 that he didn't expect anything from her. I think Spike's probably suffered the least regression, but it's still a step back.
As for Spike and Harmony, it wasn't made clear in the story that both parties were on the same page. I was halfway to a similar justification myself when I read the Q&A w/ Gage where he says it's ok, they were.
Thing is, we were supposed to be outraged by Spike's treatment of Harmony during the series, and we cheered Harmony for leaving him. To see them together again, even just as 'friends with benefits' seemed...odd (at the very least) given their history. Gage even cited TGiQ as a favorite episode and said something about wanting to recapture that feeling.
As for Angel's dream sequence, since Buffy was saying something about prom, it only reinforced how little a part of her life he was after a certain period. By his own choice, I might add.
Spike needed to win the fight in Destiny, and I'm glad Fury won the fight he had with DeKnight over it. DeKnight wanted Angel to win cuz he was the titular character and it would look bad for him to lose. Besides, Spike is the more moral of the two. That's part of what being 'more evolved' means.
Angel is slow to change, but he has to change eventually, or what's the point? Otherwise his 'journey' is just wandering around in circles.
There are enough people out there who want to hurt me for the wrong reasons that I can't easily forgive someone who hurts me 'for my own good.' I'm hurt either way, just as Anya's victims were as dead as Spike's.
Chris Nelly
33. Aeryl
I guess I just look at it differently. I see "being hung up" meaning sticking around when things are in a bad place, or there can be no resolution to the relationship. Sure he pines, but he chose to do so from a distance, which I thinks says a lot of things about Spike, all of them good. In contrast, Angel knows he can NEVER be with Buffy, but that doesn't stop him from trying to find a way, even now with this whole resurrecting that guy he killed(deliberately obtuse for spoilers). So I see how the two of them feel about Buffy very differently.

Like I said, having not read the comic where Spike and Harm hook up again, I don't know how it's played. All I'm saying is that I've had hatesex and lovesex and meh-you'll-do-sex with the same person, so NOT outside the realm of probable, to me. You mentioned Gage brought up TGiQ which just furthers my point, it's like he's never seen Spike before Angel, just he just tried to recapture that dynamic, with no exploration beyond that.

There was a discussion about Don Draper on Mad Men I was reading the other day, that asked how can you root for the guy who never changes? The answer is, you don't. You start rooting for those around him. That's Angel, that's why there's only one person I'm really engaged with in his story, and gawd I hope she comes to her senses.
Dianthus
34. Gardner Dozois
I think they would have liked to have found a valid Love Interest for Angel in the last season of the TV show, but the show never found a good way around the Curse Problem inherited from BUFFY: That if he has a moment of happiness, he loses his soul, becomes Angelus, and starts killing everybody. They toyed with the idea that he can have sex with somebody if he doesn't really feel anything for them or even if he hates them, and not be turned into Angelus, but that didn't really solve the problem, since what was desired was for the character to be in love with somebody. That's why the whole plotline with Cordelia was obviously doomed--if he had met her in time, before she was Ascended, as they were in the process of rushing to do, what were they going to do with each other? If she'd gone to bed with Angel, with him in love with her, she'd have woken up with Angelus. Same thing with an Angel/Faith paring, which would have been interesting, as they obviously had a strong emotional bond (and it would have been amusing to see him move on to another Slayer after being in love with the first one). Same with Electro Girl, another charcter who they might have molded into a Love Interest if it wasn't for The Curse. Same for Werewolf Girl in the beginning of the final season, a character who was obviously introduced to be groomed into a Love Interest who they eventually had to drop and forget about.

In terms of the arc of the whole BUFFY series, it in a way might have made sense to have Angel be the one to wear the amulet and sacrifice himself to save the Earth, attoning for his past sins and bringing the Buffy/Angel relationship to a definite if bittersweet end. But since he had a TV series of his own ongoing at the time, that wasn't going to happen.
Dianthus
35. Dianthus
In addition to fan service, I'm guessing the lure of symbolism also proved too great to ignore. It's funny to me that they tried to make Spike's story Oedipal, when it's Liam/Angelus/Angel who favors a certain physical 'type.' Darla - Buffy - Nina, all cute little blondes. Personally, I think Cordy would've been good for Angel, since she was less likely to put up with his sh!t.
They were going for a Big Brother/Little Brother dynamic btwn Angel and Spike the last season of AtS. Well, guess what, Big Brother, Little Brother's all grown up now - and he could teach you a thing or two. That's part of why Spike needed that win. Angel wouldn't take him seriously otherwise.
I think the last scene btwn Buffy and Angel was meant to suggest that Buffy (unlike Dru) could get past her 'Daddy' issues with Angel. He always seemed somewhat paternalistic where she was concerned, while Spike seemed more of a contemporary.
Unhappily, I'm just not seeing her maturing in the new material. Of course, part of growing up is realizing that the world doesn't revolve around you. Problem is, in Buffy's case, it kinda does.
Also, it was Angel who mentioned prom in his fevered imaginings, not Buffy. So I have to call myself out for that. He was just recalling a snipet of some long ago conversation, and that led to thoughts of prom.

@34. Sorry for the confusion, re: comic references. I find them confusing, and I am following them. It's hard to capture the more low key/subtle elements without actors to bring inflection and shading to the characters. Especially when the art is substandard.
Chris Nelly
36. Aeryl
I like Jeanty's art. Moline's art is ok, but it doesn't evoke the characters I know. I miss Chen's variants.

Fun fact, the girl you see in TGiQ is wearing the same hairpiece Buffy wore to prom.

I agree that she's not maturing. The story isn't allowing her to grow, and there are some narratives I think too much time was spent on(Billy), which prevented the story to spend more time with Buffy, giving her space to grow. She's been completely reactive this season, but THAT's the writers fault, IMO. The pacing with 8 was all over the place, but S9 has almost been worse, because the B stories haven't been as interesting. In S8, all forward momentum would be stopped with an ill timed one shot or something, but even those, like Riley's, expanded the backstory of Twilight. This year, not so much, unless these last few issues bring this stuff to the fore. They are trying with Xander, but its (almost)too little too late for me to care.
Dianthus
37. Dianthus
@36. Ok, now you're kinda making my case for me. I wanted good storytelling. That's all. That's what I expected. Well, that and more heartache. I expected the characters I had come to love, dealing with relatable situations and behaving rationally. Silly me. These are comix, after all.
What I did not expect was all the FAIL, like bloated, self-indulgent claptrap and 'epic' lame-itude. Little Miss 'It Would Be Wrong' leads a bank heist - Giant Meccha Dawnie With a Tail - Taking a Submarine to Nepal - The (very bad, no good) Spacefrak. Gah!
Chris Nelly
38. Aeryl
Yes, but those poor storytelling moments are not something the show was ever exempt from, so I don't understand people who act like the comics, which suffer from many of the same flaws as the show, have RUINED Buffy. EVERY season had moments we all thought fell flat, or didn't impact as it should, or felt could have been done better.

It's not the story that gets me with the comics, it's the themes. The process of exploring the themes the writers want through the story isn't as organic as it was when the show aired, but as we used to say about show, even the worst episodes of Buffy were better than most anything else.

See Buffy's bank robbery didn't bother me, Mechas are a staple of the genre, that would be like getting mad about robots showing up in S5, going to Nepal had a basis in the show's continuity, because we know that's where Oz went to get rid of his wolf and the Slayers were looking to do the same. And the Spacefrak was supposed to be bad, I don't know of anyone who thinks it was the good/right thing to do, but it still made complete sense for the characters to do it.

Angel's always ready to be caught up in a Chosen one story, and Buffy, well the comics had made it very clear that Buffy was sexually deprived, had been for awhile. And it's also been pretty well established by the show that Slayers have abnormal sex drives, probably related to the demonic infusion, so who knows what the consequences of all that were. Faith was only locked up for two years, Buffy had gone without for almost three. She (again)used someone else who cared more her than she did them for sex, she even went so far as to try and get together with Xander. She wasn't thinking clearly, much like she wasn't before Smashed, and then had Angel show up spouting his shit and something threw a magical whammy on her.

As far as the character not maturing, the continuity of the comics is different than our timeline. We feel Buffy should have grown more, because it's been 10 years. But for her, it's a little over two years since Chosen. She's only 24.
Dianthus
39. Dianthus
I'm well aware that the series was far from perfect. It was still way better than the comix.
It seems to me, however, that the comix exist primarily so Angel would kill a certain someone, giving them an excuse to trot out elements from an unproduced show about that certain someone. They've gotten far from the heart of the show I enjoyed. Plus, Angel was indirectly responsible for 200+ other deaths. No one spares any thought for them.
It's not going to Nepal - it's the submarine ride to get there. Nepal and submarines are not mix-y.
I'm also well aware of the time frame in the comix. I wasn't expecting a 30yr old Buffy. Here's the thing, age is not just a matter of chronology. Experience plays a big part in it too. Buffy's been thru some serious sh!t, the kind of stuff that ages a person. None of that is reflected in her current characterisation, IMO.
As for the sexual deprivation, this does not speak to me of a pro-sex Feminism. It wouldn't be so hard for any of these women to get a little something, especially if they're just 'blowing off steam' and it doesn't matter if the guys (assuming heterosexuality) have equal speed, strength, and stamina. Buffy herself could've had Spike, once he was back in the story, if she'd played her cards right.
Saying Slayers are a bunch of supersexed nymphos (or whatever) on the one hand while showing exactly the opposite is nuts. That's actually one of the things that bugged me most about the series. They kept telling us one thing - Angel's so Good and Great and Noble/Spike's a disgusting pig/Buffy doesn't trust Spike - while showing us exactly the opposite.
The backlash against Feminism is real and important. You're right about that. But the better story elements are lost in the weeds here. I gave up reading the comix for most of s8 cuz the stupid was just too strong.
Chris Nelly
40. Aeryl
A few things.

One, how can you judge something you haven't read? I mean sure, the comic story sounds somewhat crazy, but at the same time if you are not engaging with comics as they are meant to be engaged with, visually, you are missing out on a lot of what actually makes the story work.

For example, the one shot that's explains where the submarine they use later comes from. It's about a new toy product called VampyCat, that are actually a hive minded demons with a bone to pick with Slayers that can possess the people who play with them. Throughout the entire season, commercials for these VampyCats can be seen on TVs in the background, ALL THE TIME. As a matter of fact, like in Hush, using the characters watching exposition is very important in the comics, but it's easy stuff to miss if you aren't familiar with doing that.

And the whole thing is REALLY talking about consumerism and advertising, while telling a funny little story about homicidal stuffed animals, while two Slayers, who aren't a part of the core, talk about love. And it also explains, like I said, where that submarine come from.

And it explains how the Slayers were branded terrorists(they blew up the container ship with the shipment of toys on it).

I never said that the sex is an aspect of pro-sex feminism. If anything, it's to be seen as a negative side effect of the inital Slayer spell(much like sexual abuse victims sometimes have difficulty relating to sex in a healthy manner), and it can be fanwanked that maybe the new Slayers, whose empowerment was different, doesn't have the same side effect. I'm just saying it was a part of the story, and helped explain WHY Buffy did what she was doing(and Spike didn't come back until AFTER the Spacefrak, so that's beside the point).
Constance Sublette
41. Zorra
I had the impression right at the start of season 6, before she managed to raise Buffy, that Willow had already been tampering with Tara's memory and will.

In another sense, out from under Buffy's protection - shadow, Willow's abilities blew up -- huge, very fast, so fast she didn't have herself under control yet. She's not a mature woman much less a mature witch at this point -- just a very powerful witch, and a young woman who is in charge of a household, i.e. herself, Tara, Dawn. The other Scoobies defer to Willow, by the fact that she was Buffy's best and most close friend, and she's in the house. In fact she, with Tara, are in Mom's bed and bedroom. This makes sense in terms of living arrangements of course, but there's a bit of a symbolism there too, at least for me.

That's she's still a very immature personality -- the first pointer to this is how badly she managed domestic finances, leaving Buffy to return to a economic disaster. There seems to have been no effort whatsoever by any of the Scoobies to do any management all. They were drifting -- like college students, not legitimate guardians. Even Giles doesn't do anything until Buffy returns. Then he gives her a loan and leaves.

Of course, Willow, Tara, Xander trying to pay bills might get Dawn in the focus of child services, which Dawn and everyone else wouldn't want. But Anya, one might think, would be thinking of about money matters. Because -- hey, house insurance, mortage all those things have to be handled or else, no more house. It's almost as if, on one level, the scoobes are playing house in Joyce's nice house, without taking any responsibility. Instead they dig into the occult. Kind of creepy.

The power Willow had to bring back someone from the dead -- even when the soul is in well-earned peace and bliss -- that's incredible.

Love, C.
Emma Rosloff
42. emmarosloff
What's interesting about the whole financial side of things is that their lack of addressing the issue didn't bother me until it suddenly became one come Season 6. This is a fantastical show after all, wherein you're trying to escape the humdrum trappings of real life; bills, things like that, so my kneejerk after Joyce's death wasn't ever to think -- how is Buffy paying for everything? But the moment it became part of the story (after Buffy was ressurected) I suddenly had all these questions and issues with consistency.

That whole facet of Season 6 irked me a bit. Her foray at the DoubleMeat Palace felt too heavy-handed. I mean, come on. Things were bad enough. And as someone who went a more unconventional route, education wise (homeschooled in highschool, never went to a four year college) I could relate to Buffy feeling like she didn't have it in her to do all that book learnin', but I was frustrated by her overall lack of gumption. I guess, to be fair, she was depressed as hell, but remember when she got that waitressing gig after the mess with Angel? She was much younger then and she wrangled that -- sure, not the most glamorous, high-paying of jobs, but it's a lot better than working at what is essentially McDonalds. I wasn't opposed to the idea of her having to grapple with a normal person job, but DM Palace felt like a particularly low blow.

I guess it was meant to underscore her utter lack of self-esteem at that point in the story. Still, I have a lot of trouble rewatching the DM episodes and all of the ones where she's denied financial aid and can't get her shit together (and has devolved in her relationship with Spike). It's just painful.
Chris Nelly
43. Aeryl
I've said it before, but I always felt that Buffy worked at DM for extra money to help with the debt, and it was a job flexible enough to work with her messed up hours, not that DM was her sole source of income.
Dianthus
44. Dianthus
I believe I mentioned once before (in the past) that I stopped reading the comix for most of s8. By a certain point, I was frustrated and disappointed enough in them that I felt they weren't worth any more of my time, let alone my money. I followed them by remove. I believe you said you were doing the same with s9?
Really, I don't know what your problem is. This is a difference of opinion. A strong one, I grant you, but nothing more.
I don't think much of the comix. So what? Is one of us right, and the other wrong? Not in any objective sense. Other folks are probably getting tired of us hijacking the conversation by now anyway.

I've long thought that Buffy's money woes were just one more aspect of 'piling on' in s6. It was one more thing to add to her misery, as was the crappy job at the DP, which would never bring in enough money to make it all ok.
Slightly OT: healthy young women can make $3000/mo as egg donors. This is a real thing.
The money problems almost never came up again in s7, even though Giles was bringing back more and more mouths to feed (was he financing that? The Council?). Her situation hadn't really changed, but hey...why let facts/realism get in the way of a good story? OTOH, they could just steal whatever they needed as the townies finally wised up and got the Hell out of The Hellmouth.
It's weird that the Scoobies were all-knowing and way smarter than the adults for so long, until the adults left the room, and then they fell apart. Not so easy after all, now is it?
Chris Nelly
45. Aeryl
I think the Buffy needs money story would have worked better before she died. Afterwards, it just feels like piling on.

You brought the comics up, not me. I'm just saying if you are referring to a text that you aren't familiar with, someone else is, don't be upset if they feel you are misrepresenting it(like you felt during the Hunchback of Notre Dame discussion a few wks ago).

To an extent I agree with that characters acted less and less together as time went on, because it was how the writers chose to keep creating drama as the series went on. During S1-3, and even into 4, the characters are maturing. What we see during 5 isn't so much regression but rigidity, where everyone finds a spot, and stays in it. After Buffy's death, everyone definitely starts to regress, and aside from a few moments of enlightenment, (Grave, Chosen) they've either been static or regressing. I have hopes S10 will straighten this out, I completely accept the stationary characterization as the price for dealing the consequences of S8, because I like stories that allow their actions to have consequences.
Dianthus
46. Dianthus
I brought up an aspect of the comix I don't care for cuz it was relevant to the conversation at the time - i.e. Buffy and Angel.
That I am 'misrepresenting' the comix is:
a. not really necessary - they were/are as ridiculous as they sound (which is my opinion). s8 is what happens when someone who believes his own press clippings is allowed to run amuck. They dialed back the crazy in s9. It's a modest improvement, tho' there was the whole pregnancy scare/psyche out thing. I am not trying to mislead anyone.
b. also a matter of opinion (yours)
I invite you to consider that I've made no secret of being a Spike fan. Spike is stubborn, snarky, and opinionated. What's more, he has been known to say things others don't want to hear. Maybe, just maybe, there's a connection there, hmmm?
Alyx Dellamonica
47. AMDellamonica
Okay, folks--I admit I haven't been here for a couple days. (I'm moving across the country.) And I see things are getting heated. BMcGovern's out of town, I believe.

Can I just put out a general plea to keep it dialed down?
Katharine Duckett
48. Katharine
Stepping in as mod here as well to second @AMDellamonica and to remind everybody of our moderation policy. Let's keep it civil, and remember to disagree with ideas, not people. Thanks!

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